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The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team put in maximum effort in Race 2 at Aragon for Round 3 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship on Sunday. Michael van der Mark had a blistering start from the middle of the front row and led across the line after the first lap. He, unfortunately, also had a slight issue with his R1 and battled as hard as he could despite not having a great feeling with the front end, enjoying the excellent fight with his teammate in the last few laps before finishing the race in fifth.

As has been the theme for most of the 2018 season so far, there was almost nothing to separate the Pata Yamaha riders all weekend, with them matching each other’s time exactly in Friday’s free practice. Then there was only 0.01s between them in Saturday’s qualifying before they crossed the line in Race 1 within 1.053s of each other after 17 laps of racing.

Van der Mark lined up in the middle of the front row for Race 2 after he rode to a solid fifth in Saturday’s Race 1. Sixth in Sunday morning’s Warm Up, he was confident heading into Race 2 and this showed as he enjoyed an excellent start, taking the lead almost immediately. Sadly, this was to be short-lived as the 25-year-old Dutch rider just did not have the same feeling with the front end of his Pata Yamaha R1 as expected. Pushing hard at the front, he was made to run a bit wide after there was contact as Melandri passed him for the lead, but recovered superbly, although he just did not quite have the pace to keep the chasing riders at bay.

He battled hard, but could not hold them off and dropped down to sixth as he tried to work out a way to deal with his issue and when his teammate Lowes came past on lap 8, he responded in style. Latching on to Lowes back wheel, the two Pata Yamaha riders started to hunt down Michael Ruben Rinaldi in fourth. They both blasted past the Italian and van der Mark then tried to break away from Lowes but to no avail. Enjoying an excellent scrap, Lowes signalled his intent by making a move into Turn 1 on a final lap that saw them pass each other a number of times. In a dramatic finish, he just lost out to his teammate in the final few corners, crossing the line in fifth 0.436s behind Lowes to collect 11 championship points. He is now sixth in the overall standings with 67 points, just three behind his teammate Lowes, and up next is van der Mark’s home round at Assen, a circuit he loves racing at in front of the passionate Dutch fans.

Michael van der Mark: “I had quite a good start and then I took the lead in the first few corners but, to be honest, after the first few laps I didn’t feel comfortable with the front-end of my R1 and this was an issue for the whole race. I was leading the field but I felt too slow and one but one they passed me. I tried to stay with the front guys and tried everything I could but, in the end, I was riding right on the limit and then I missed a gear and missed quite a lot of time there as well. Towards the end of the race, I had another excellent battle with Alex which I really enjoyed, but to be fourth and fifth and 10 seconds behind the leaders is not where we have to be. Hopefully, for Assen, we can find a solution to the problem and make some good progress at my home race!”

Despite a tricky weekend at times, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team head to Round 4 of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship at the TT Circuit Assen on the 20th-22nd of April confident they will be back fighting for the podium.

Results race 2