VAN DER MARK BATTLES TO STRONG FIFTH IN RACE 1 AT PORTIMAO
It was a day of highs for Michael van der Mark and his Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team in Portimao on Saturday for round ten of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. Michael showed his class after a tricky first lap to charge his way through the field and battle his way to a fifth-place finish.
Van der Mark got Saturday off to a good start at Portimao by improving his pace overnight to place fourth in FP3 and then managed to qualify at the front of the third row, to start Race 1 from seventh on the grid. When the lights went out, the 24-year-old Dutch rider had a good start on his Yamaha R1, but lost a few places during the first lap and found himself down in ninth. Settling into a good rhythm, he then started to fight his way past the riders in front, getting involved in a number of good battles along the way.
As the race went on his pace improved and by lap 14 he had fought his way up to fifth and set his sights on the podium battle ahead of him. Unfortunately, the laps ran out while he was chasing down the podium contenders and he crossed the line in fifth to collect 11 championship points, which means he remains seventh in the standings with 146 points – just seven points behind Xavi Forés in fifth. Due to the 2017 Race 2 grid rules, van der Mark will line up for Sunday’s race in the middle of the front row in second, confident of being able to fight at the front.
Michael van der Mark: “I am pretty pleased with the race! I had a good initial start but then got passed by some riders on the acceleration phase and then I had to battle my way forward. I had some good fights with some riders but, to be honest, after a couple of laps I had problems with the front grip and Alex passed me because I almost crashed. I then tried to follow Alex, we had a similar pace I think, so I had to manage the rhythm from early on in the race. I wasn’t completely happy with the feeling with my R1 so I think we did a really good job to finish in fifth and hopefully we can make some steps forward with the setup for tomorrow. It is good to be in the top five again after some tough results lately, so I am really happy and looking forward to starting Race 2 from the front row!”