VAN DER MARK TAKES HARD-FOUGHT EIGHTH PLACE IN RACE 1 AT LAGUNA SECA
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team rider Michael van der Mark had a mixed day under the scorching sun on Saturday during Superpole and Race 1 for round eight of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. At the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca he fought his way from 13th on the grid to secure an eighth-place finish despite track temperatures of almost 60°C and suffering from a lack of grip.
Van der Mark had to contest SP1 for only the second time this season on Saturday morning, but despite his best efforts, he finished the session in third, missing out on making it through to SP2 for the first time since he joined the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team, by just two-hundredths of a second. Starting from 13th on the grid, he immediately made up a number of places when the lights went out at Laguna Seca. Unfortunately, at Turn 2 Leon Camier ran wide and Van der Mark had nowhere to go and was forced wide, dropping back to 12th. The 24-year-old Dutch rider then got his head down, and despite not feeling fully confident with his R1 on corner entry and suffering from a lack of grip, he found a steady rhythm and started to make his way through the pack.
After 11 laps, he had made his way up to tenth place and started to close the gap the three riders ahead of him. By lap 14 he became involved in an excellent four-way battle for seventh and as the laps ticked down he first passed Lorenzo Savadori for ninth, then made an excellent move on Leandro Mercado for 8th with 5 laps remaining. He set his sights on trying to close down the gap to Jordi Torres in seventh but he ran out of laps and crossed the line in eighth to secure eight vital championship points.
The new grid rules for 2017 mean that he will start Sunday’s Race 2 from the middle of the second row in fifth place, with Van der Mark keen to build on his Race 1 performance. This result sees him remain sixth in the championship standings, now with 123 points, but means he has closed the gap to his teammate Lowes in fifth to just 18 points.
Michael van der Mark: “I had a good start from 13th on the grid but then Camier went wide and I was on the outside so I lost a number of places in Turn 2. After that, I immediately struggled with the turning of the bike and I pushed really hard and found the limit, which was safe but so much slower than this morning. I was not happy with this pace but towards the end, I was closing on the group in front of me and I managed to overtake two of them. I think eighth was the maximum possible today and we need to find something to allow us to be closer to the front for tomorrow. At the moment, the gap to the winner at this track is too much. Tomorrow it will be good to start from the second row with the fast guys and hopefully, we can make a step for Race 2 and be a lot quicker.”