Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team rider Michael van der Mark took a fantastic fourth place during Round 9 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at Misano today, having started the first race from 11th position on the grid. Wild card rider Niccolò Canepa secured his first championship points of the season with a solid 12th place finish, while Alex Lowes was disappointed to record his first DNF of 2018 after a crash ruled him out of the race with 10 laps remaining.
The race was run in typically hot and humid conditions with no sign of the rain showers that disrupted proceedings on the opening day in Misano. After a difficult qualifying van der Mark started from 11th on the grid, with teammate Lowes alongside him in 12th, despite showing front row pace, and Canepa two rows further back in 16th position. Van der Mark had missed the top six by less than one tenth of a second, and Lowes was set for third on the grid until an unfortunate off in the final sector of his lap.
A lightning start to the race and an aggressive opening lap from van der Mark saw him quickly on terms with the leading group as he settled into a fast and consistent rhythm. The 25-year-old Dutch rider managed to up his pace after passing Tom Sykes for fourth at half race distance, but didn’t quite have the extra speed or the laps remaining to challenge for the final place on the podium.
After the disappointment of a difficult outing during his last wild card appearance at Donington, Canepa was satisfied with his performance in today’s Misano race, which he finished in 12th place. It meant the Italian rider picked up his first championship points of the season and added to the development data available to Yamaha’s engineers.
Today’s 21-lap race ended in disappointment for Lowes. The 27-year-old British rider got pushed wide in turn one at the start and then lost the front and slid off seven laps in as he chased to make up places. Lowes remounted and re-joined the race in 17th position, but was forced to retire shortly after half race distance following a second low side crash.
All three Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team riders are confident of strong performances in tomorrow’s second race, which van der Mark will start from pole position.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – P4 +4.921
“This morning I felt better with the bike again and made a big step during Superpole 1, improving my lap time a lot but, unfortunately, in the second session I had so much spin with the qualifier towards the end of the lap I couldn’t improve as much and to start P11 at Misano is not ideal. I had a really good start, a bit lucky in the first few corners, but made it through to the leading group quite early. My pace was really consistent and I was a little bit faster at the end, but not quite quick enough to challenge for the final podium position. I’m really happy with the work we’ve done and tomorrow, starting from pole, I hope we can put up a good fight for the podium.”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – P12 +37.665
“I’m quite satisfied to be in the points today. After a difficult race at Donington we found the way to improve the bike and I found a way to ride a little bit better. I’m happy with my pace today and the fact that my best lap came with just four laps to go. The more I ride this bike, the more laps I do, I understand better the bike, which makes me more helpful as a test rider, which is my job. We will try to make some more small improvements to the bike and I’m confident that we can make another step forward in the race tomorrow.”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – DNF
“Today has been tough. We were expecting a lot more after the pace we had shown all weekend and because Misano generally suits the R1. Superpole was nearly great!. I was on a really good lap and made a mistake at T14 costing us a chance of the front row or at least the second row. When the race started, I didn’t feel comfortable like in the practice sessions. I then made a mistake trying to pass and make up positions early on. It’s such a shame to get my first DNF of the season but let’s look forward to improving the setting of my R1 and trying again tomorrow.”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – Team Principal
“We don’t normally discuss qualifying so much on a Saturday given that it’s also race day, but today’s race for Michael and Alex was largely a result of a difficult qualifying session and a bit of bad luck. Michael missed the second row by less than a tenth whereas Alex would have qualified on the front row were it not for an unfortunate “off “right at the end of the lap. It made the race challenging for both; Michael made a fantastic start to get in the top eight on the first lap and from there on rode one of his best races of the season to date, pushing his R1 to the limits and never looking like he was going to make a mistake. Congratulations to him and to his crew on the huge improvement compared to yesterday. Tomorrow he will start from pole, he clearly has a lot of pace, so let’s see what we can achieve.
Unfortunately today was Alex’s first DNF of the year. The start was complicated, we weren’t able to make the small improvements to the bike that were needed and when you’re pushing through the pack to get to the front group these things can happen. Alex has made very few errors this year; we’ll regroup for tomorrow and push for the best result we can from the fourth row.
Thanks to Niccolò for keeping his focus and working hard for the whole race. The information gathered gives him some clear improvement points for tomorrow and will help Yamaha’s engineers to understand the development aspects of his R1 more clearly after a competitive full race distance.”