DIFFICULT OPENING DAY FOR VAN DER MARK IN ARGENTINA
Michael van der Mark enjoyed a difficult start to the first ever WorldSBK weekend in Argentina. The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team rider was inside the top ten, but was then relegated to 11th position when his fastest lap was discounted due to him marginally exceeding the track limits.
With the circuit only recently completed and this weekend’s race the first major event to be held at the new facility, track conditions changed considerably for each of today’s three free practice sessions, as the riders in all classes cleaned the track of the dirt deposited on the surface during the construction process.
This meant that Michael van der Mark and crew had to adapt to rapidly changing conditions, with grip increasing lap-by-lap as a clean line started to form around the 11 left and 8 right-hand corners that make up the 4.276km El Villicum circuit.
Van der Mark enjoyed a solid start to the weekend, although the progress he made throughout the day wasn’t truly reflected on the timesheet. The 25-year-old was initially credited with ninth place at the end of today’s third free practice session, but will now have to fight his way through Superpole 1 tomorrow after having his fastest lap deleted due to a track limits infraction at turn nine.
The Pata Yamaha rider declared himselves extremely impressed with the layout of the San Juan Villicum circuit, but he also expressed concerns about the track surface and the amount of debris that was being thrown up when following other riders.
Michael van der Mark: “It wasn’t an easy day because the conditions were different for every session, with the track getting better as it cleaned up and more rubber went down. This made it difficult to start working on the set-up of the bike ready for the race, because you’d make changes to suit the track but then the track would improve and you’d have to start again. The track surface was also an issue, as it looks like it’s starting to break up in some places, which means you get hit with a lot of debris when you’re behind other riders. At the moment there’s only really one clean line, so you can’t move out to the side to avoid the debris either. For the last session we made some pretty big changes to the bike, which were really positive and allowed me to improve almost every lap, so we’re definitely heading in the right direction. Right at the end we put in a new set of tyres and my pace was good, but then I was a little unlucky to get my fastest lap cancelled for exceeding the track limits. It’s a shame because the time was good enough to put me straight into Superpole 2 but, anyway, I have a good feeling and I’m sure tomorrow the track will be different again, so let’s see what FP4 brings.”