VAN DER MARK DELIGHTS THE DUTCH FANS WITH RACE 1 VICTORY FIGHT AT ASSEN
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team’s Michael van der Mark sent the Dutch fans wild at a hot and sunny Assen on Saturday during Race 1 at Round 4 of the WorldSBK Championship. Riding at his home round, he recovered from a tricky SP2 to charge from seventh on the grid to secure his second podium of the season after a sensational ride at the TT Circuit Assen.
Van der Mark loves racing in front of the Dutch fans at Assen and it always seems to bring out the best in the 25-year-old rider. After ending Friday’s practice in third overall, he entered into SP2 confident he could fight for pole but a mistake on the qualifying tyre saw him miss out on the lap time he knew was capable of. Starting the race from seventh on the gird, the 2014 WorldSSP Champion made his usual lightning start and was up to fourth by the first corner. Remaining calm and focused, he set the fastest lap of the race on lap 2, picking his way past his teammate on the third lap to move up into second and then became involved in a race-long game of cat and mouse with Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies.
Van der Mark made the grandstand erupt when he made a classic Assen move on Rea at the Geert Timmer Chicane to take the lead and attempted to break away. Try as he might, he could not shake Rea and by lap nine, Chaz Davies had joined the party to make it a three-way battle for victory. A thrilling final few laps ensued, with van der Mark always in the hunt for the race win, matching Rea and Davis lap for lap. On lap 17 he blasted past Davies into second and tried to dislodge Rea from the lead but it was not meant to be. To the delight of the Dutch fans, the man from Rotterdam crossed the line in second, just 0.981s behind Rea to secure his second podium of the season and collect 20 championship points. The result sees van der Mark move up into fourth in the overall standings with 87 points, only 19 points behind Marco Melandri in third. Knowing he has the pace to fight for the win, he will enter into Sunday’s Race 2 with the mission of going one better and aiming for his first Yamaha victory from eighth on the grid.
Michael van der Mark: “I am really, really happy with the result. In SP2, I made a big mistake on my qualifying tyre and I was quite angry. I had to start from P7 but had a good start and took a special line into Turn 1 to make up a couple of places. I stayed quiet in the first few laps, passed a few people and I knew I had to stay calm because I had the pace to fight at the front. Step by step I managed my way to the front and I was following Jonny and I thought he wasn’t pushing 100%, so I tried to stay with him. Then, I managed to get past him and tried to push to see if we could break away from the other guys behind us but, after that, he passed me again and I just tried to stay with him because I knew in the last few laps we could have a good battle. Then Chaz got involved in the mix. I was a little bit worried but when I saw how hard Chaz was pushing Jonny and I could follow them quite well, I was really happy. Then, in the last few laps, I saw that everyone was struggling a little bit. I passed Chaz and I tried to catch Jonny but he had a little bit more pace and he took the race win. Anyway, I am really happy with P2 as this is the closest we have been to a victory. For tomorrow, we have to improve some small areas on my R1 and I think we can fight at the front again.”
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will be ready to fight for the podium once more on Sunday, with the action kicking off at 9:35 am CEST for Warm Up and the 21-lap race scheduled to start at 1 pm.