The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are relishing the opportunity to perform at the final round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship in Qatar this weekend. Having gone from strength to strength throughout the year, the team will be looking to bow out on a high to bring an end to a 2017 season that has seen them emerge as regular podium contenders. Alex Lowes wants to finish the year in the strongest possible way and is hoping to add to his tally of three podiums so far in 2017 after back to back fourth-place finishes last time out in Jerez. His teammate Michael van der Mark, fresh from a superb MotoGP debut for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in Malaysia, hopes to continue the form that has seen him record two podiums at the last three rounds and eleven consecutive points-scoring finishes.
Lowes loves the unique experience of racing under the floodlights at Qatar, and the 27-year-old British rider secured seventh in Race 1 at Losail last year, before fighting back superbly in a restarted Race 2 after a first-corner incident that saw him forced to charge his way from the back of the field to a well-deserved tenth-place finish. Lowes was on fire at the last round in Jerez, with two strong rides that saw him once again battling with the top riders in the championship, just missing out on the podium in both races. The 2013 British Superbike Champion currently sits fifth in the championship standings with 226 points, with a maximum of 50 up for grabs at the final round of the season in Qatar.
Van der Mark is also a fan of the Losail International Circuit and is excited about his first opportunity to ride the track on his Pata Yamaha R1. The Dutch rider recently celebrated his 25th birthday and flew straight to Qatar from Sepang after an excellent performance deputising for the recovering Jonas Folger on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 at the Malaysian GP, where he finished in a very respectable 16th place on his MotoGP debut. The 2014 Supersport World Champion has been in stunning form at the last three rounds, with two podiums and five top-six finishes in six races, and van der Mark wants to continue this run at the season finale to finish the year in the best way possible. He is currently sixth in the championship standings with 210 points, just 16 behind his teammate Lowes.
The 5.380km Losail International Circuit is located 30km north of Doha in Qatar and plays host to the only night race on the WorldSBK calendar. Opened in 2004, this will be the ninth time the circuit has held a WorldSBK round and the track itself consists of 16 corners, ten right and six left-handed, plus a start/finish straight that is over a kilometre long. Providing a mix of fast-flowing corners and some technical slower sections, it has become a firm favourite with the riders and its layout always seems to provide an exciting spectacle under the floodlights for the fans.
The Acerbis Qatar round follows a different schedule than most, with just the WorldSBK & WorldSSP classes involved and the track action taking place at night from Thursday-Saturday. Therefore, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will take to the track for Free Practice 1 on Thursday afternoon at 17:45 pm local time, with Friday’s qualifying starting at 18:30 pm and Race 1 at 21:00 pm, while Saturday’s Race 2 is also scheduled for 21:00 pm.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 5th – 226 points
“This season seems to have gone by really fast! I’m ready for the final race of the year and I will be giving it everything I can to finish as strongly as possible. The race in Qatar is unique as it’s our only night race, which I really enjoy. Overall the season has gone pretty well and I feel like I am improving all the time, so I want to make sure I take another step forward this weekend. The R1 finished on the podium here last year, and I learned a lot about getting the best from the bike at this type of track, so I think both me and my Yamaha are ready to give a strong performance! “
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 6th – 210 points
“I am looking forward to the last race of the season, even if it’s difficult to believe it’s arrived already. The Qatar round is one of my favourite races of the year under the floodlights and I really like the track. Hopefully, we can finish the season on a high note as we have been really competitive in the last couple of races. There are some small points we can improve to make sure I am able to be fast right to the end, and I look forward to ending the year in the best way possible.”