Lowes Leads the Way For Yamaha in Portimão

It was Alex Lowes who once again led the Yamaha charge in Portugal, with the 28-year-old Briton continuing his impressive form to finish the two-days of testing second on the timesheet. After a difficult opening day in Portimão, Michael van der Mark made a significant step forward on day two of the test to finish in fifth position, just over 0.3s off the time of his Pata Yamaha WorldSBK teammate. The GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK team riders, Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri, enjoyed mixed fortunes in Portimão. While Cortese declared himself satisfied with his progress during the test, which he finished in seventh position, Melandri was frustrated in his attempts to find a base set up to suit his riding style and was forced to settle for eighth position on the timesheet as a result.

Lowes quickly mastered the cool and blustery conditions that greeted the riders on the opening day of the test, with a fast and consistent pace securing him second place reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea. Van der Mark found the conditions more taxing, as he struggled to find a good feeling with his Yamaha YZF-R1 and was disappointed to climb no higher than seventh on the timesheet.

Both Pata Yamaha riders made significant improvements on the second day of testing, despite falling temperatures and even more unpredictable winds at the Portimão circuit. Lowes once again claimed second place on at the end of the day but was unable to reduce Jonathan Rea’s advantage at the top of the timesheet after running into traffic on his fastest lap. Major changes to the set up of his YZF-R1 saw van der Mark rediscover his pace on day two, which he finished in fifth position, but the former Supersport World Champion is confident of further improvement ahead of the opening race in Phillip Island.

Cortese declared himself satisfied with his progress over the two days in Portimão, a track that he was riding for the first time aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 he’ll campaign for GRT Yamaha this season. The reigning Supersport World Champion worked with his crew to refine the set up of the bike, whilst also adapting his riding style to better suit the demands of the YZF-R1 and the technical Portimão circuit. Cortese was the quickest of the two GRT Yamaha riders, ending the test in seventh position.

It proved a difficult two days in Portugal for Melandri. The former 250cc World Champion worked tirelessly with his crew to set up his Yamaha YZF-R1 to better suit his riding style but struggled to get the bike to work for him under braking and on corner entry. Melandri ended the two days eighth on the timesheet but remains confident that he and his crew can find a solution ahead of next month’s third and final preseason test in Phillip Island.

Alex Lowes

Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P2 – 1’41.814

“It’s been a really positive test for me here in Portimão, a track at which I’ve struggled a little previously on the Yamaha. During this test we’ve found some strong, consistent pace and my fastest lap came on the sprint race tyre as I ran into traffic on the qualifier, so I know there’s more to come. But it’s not the one-off fast lap time that’s important. What’s made me happy is the fact that I posted a lot of fast and consistent laps on every run, we managed to complete the whole test program and we’re now in a good position ahead of the test and race in Phillip Island. We’ve had a really strong winter, put the hard work in, made no mistakes and, hopefully, we can reap the reward with a strong start to the season in Phillip Island next month.”

Michael van der Mark

Michael van der Mark: Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P5 – 1’42.191

“It’s been quite a difficult test for me here in Portimão. We struggled to find the right feeling with the bike on the first day, despite trying many things in the search for improvement. On the second day we started again, making some big changes on the bike and, immediately, I felt so much more comfortable. It was also difficult with the weather today, as it was quite cold with a lot of wind. We worked really hard to try many things, but there are still a couple of areas where I am missing a bit, so there is still some work to do. This is where we need to focus our efforts ahead of the next test in Phillip Island, an amazing track where I really enjoy riding. I’m confident we can make another step forward there and that we’ll be ready for the first race of the season.”

Sandro Cortese

GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P7 – 1’42.469

“Overall this was a very productive test. Portimão is a new track for me with the Yamaha YZF-R1 and we started more or less from zero here. We came with the base set up from Jerez, where we were quite happy, but we had to adapt the bike a lot for Portimão, which is a very special circuit with the changes in elevation. So the first job was to learn the circuit on this bike and only then could we start work on refining the set up. Over the two days we made some big improvements and, day by day, I learnt more about the riding style that these bikes require. It’s a learning process but it is progressing well and we ended with a relatively good feeling. I know what I need to work on over the next two weeks and the team have a clear direction in which to work also ahead of the third and final test in Phillip Island.”

Marco Melandri

Marco Melandri: GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P8 – 1’42.507

“This was a very difficult test for me. I came here expecting a little bit more, but it looks like we’re going around the real problem, unable to find a solution. For me it’s very difficult at the moment to brake how I want; the bike doesn’t respond well to my riding style under braking and on entry to the corner. We tried everything we could here in Portimão, but it looks like it’s not enough. Now we need to try some different options in Phillip Island, go a different way with the set up, in order to find a solution ahead of the first race of the season.”

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