The Yamaha WorldSBK teams will cross the equator for only the second time this season as they head for Circuito San Juan Villicum in Argentina, venue for the penultimate round of the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship. It could prove a pivotal race weekend for Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, both of whom are targeting the podium as they continue their battle for third place in the championship standings.
Lowes and van der Mark departed the previous round in Magny-Cours as they’d started it, with the Briton lying third in the series standings but with only a five-point advantage over his Dutch teammate. The Pata Yamaha riders will also need to keep a close eye on Toprak Razgatlioglu, whose two race wins last time out in Magny-Cours saw him close to within 19 points of Lowes, making it a three-way battle for the final step of the championship podium in Qatar.
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Marco Melandri, is excited to return to Argentina and Circuito San Juan Villicum, a track he rates as one of the most fun to ride on the WorldSBK calendar. Melandri is looking to build on his results last time out in Magny-Cours, where the veteran Italian finished both feature races inside the top ten, with sixth in WorldSBK Race 2 his best placing of the weekend.
Sandro Cortese finished on the podium in the WorldSSP race in Argentina 12 months ago, but the track is another at which the German rider will be making his debut aboard the GRT Yamaha YZF-R1 this season. Cortese is hoping for good weather in which to adapt to the demands of the Superbike during free practice on Friday, as he looks to rediscover his form after the changeable weather saw the reigning Supersport World Champion endure a difficult weekend last time out in Magny-Cours.
Loris Baz is another rider looking forward to returning to South America this weekend. Baz and the Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK team have gone from strength to strength since returning to WorldSBK in Jerez and both rider and team have shown real podium potential. A top-three finish has so far eluded them, but Baz remains determined to stand on the podium at least once this season and the Frenchman heads into the Argentina weekend knowing he has only six races remaining in which to achieve his goal.
The Circuito San Juan Villicum runs anticlockwise and features 11 left and 8 right-hand corners along its 4.276km length. The track is adjacent to the iconic Route 40 road, which runs for 5,000km from the north to the south of Argentina along the length of the Andes. Construction of the track was started in 2016 with work completed last year, just in time to host the 2018 WorldSBK round, which was the first international event to be held at the circuit.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“Last year was our first visit to Argentina and I really enjoyed it. The track itself is quite technical with some flowing changes of direction this, together with the fast parts and the long back straight make it a fun circuit to ride. It’s also got one of the best backdrops of any racetrack, with the surrounding mountains making it really cool. I’m fully focused on getting back to work on Friday, working on our setting to put us in the best position to fight for the podium on Saturday and Sunday, which is our target as always.”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“I really enjoy going to Argentina. Last year was a difficult race for us but I’m pretty sure that it will be a lot better this year given the progress we’ve made. Our whole package has improved so I’m confident we will have another strong weekend Circuito San Juan Villicum in San Juan this weekend. We are in a really nice flow at the moment, so my goal is to once again be fighting for the top positions in the penultimate round of the season.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
“I’m really happy to be heading to Argentina, as it’s one of my favourite places. I really like the country and the track is really fun to ride, I really enjoyed racing there last year. I’m excited to be returning to the track again, although I hope they haven’t had too many car races there in the interim and that the tarmac is still as flat as it was last year. I am confident that we can keep improving, and that’s what we’ll be working towards this weekend.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
“Magny-Cours was a very difficult and unlucky weekend for me, so I’m looking forward to hitting the reset button ahead of the races in Argentina. The Circuito San Juan Villicum is very special and I enjoyed racing there last year on the Supersport bike. This will be my first time there on the Superbike and I think it will be even more enjoyable on the YZF-R1, especially the fast sections and the long back straight.”
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
“I’m looking forward to heading back to Argentina and it will be cool to race at the Circuito San Juan Villicum once again. We are improving every time we take to the track and we are getting closer to the podium with every race, so let’s see what Argentina brings. The track was new last year and quite dirty, which made for tricky conditions, so hopefully, it’s cleaned up a bit with 12 months of use. I’m not really sure how our bike will work there, but the grip can be a bit unpredictable and I think the YZF-R1 suits these conditions. The goal is simple; to continue improving, to close on the guys at the very front of the race and, if possible, step onto the podium for the first time.”