The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team continued their strong run of form in Race 2 on Sunday at Laguna Seca at Round 8 of the 2018 MOTUL FIM World Superbike Championship. Alex Lowes followed up his Race 1 podium with another superb ride – starting from seventh on the grid he fought his way through the pack, hunting down his teammate and passing him with two laps to go to secure fourth place. Michael van der Mark had a great start from fifth on the grid and rode an excellent race, battling for the podium in the early stages before crossing the line in fifth.
Lowes pulled off a stunning ride in Race 1 at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday to finish third and secure his third podium of the season, at a circuit where the team had not previously enjoyed success. Starting at the head of the third row for Sunday’s Race 2, the 27-year-old British rider got a good start and was battling hard in seventh on the opening laps. Picking his way past a number of riders as the race progressed, he showed superb pace and by lap 5 he was up to fifth and hunting the group ahead. On lap 10, Lowes found himself behind his teammate and the two pushed hard to try and join the battle for the podium.
Lowes patiently bided his time behind van der Mark before pulling off a sensation pass on lap 23 to move up to fourth and with open track ahead of him, he set his sights on trying to hunt down Eugene Laverty in third. Unfortunately, there was just not enough time and Lowes greeted the flag in fourth place, just 1.3s behind Laverty, and securing 13 championship points to add to the 16 he received for his Race 1 podium. This sees the 2013 British Superbike Champion now just 13 points behind Tom Sykes in the championship in fifth overall with 183 points.
Van der Mark struggled with grip issues on his way to a battling eighth-place finish in Race 1 but after an overnight setup change, when the lights went out on Sunday for Race 2, the 25-year-old Dutch rider got a blistering start from fifth on the grid and was up to second place by the end of the first lap. He fought hard in the podium battle, before dropping into the sights of his teammate Lowes by the mid-way point of the race.
After pushing on the limit for a number of laps in an effort to close down Laverty ahead and also keep his teammate at bay, van der Mark succumbed to a superb move from Lowes with just over two laps to go. Despite this, he pushed right to the line to secure a strong fifth-place finish despite not having the easiest of weekends. After collecting 19 points over the weekend, Van der Mark remains third in the championship standings 215 points, 30 behind Chaz Davies in second.
Up next for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team is Round 9 of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship at Misano on the 6th-8th of July.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 4th +8.011s
“The race was good! It was fantastic to have another battle with Michael. Fair play to him because he has had a more difficult weekend but he turned it around in Race 2 to have a really strong pace, which was really nice to see. I actually felt really good in the race, I just didn’t get the best start. I tried to be a bit aggressive and struggled a bit at the start but I managed to pass a few guys, keep my pace really strong, and I think if I had just managed to get past Michael six or seven laps earlier, maybe I could have challenged for the podium. I think my pace was good enough, which is a compliment to my guys on this track, so a massive thank you to them. A third and a fourth is a good job and I look forward to trying to close the gap to Johnny and Kawasaki in the next race!”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 5th +9.746s
“I am really happy with today’s result! The guys worked really hard to find a solution to all the problems we had yesterday and this morning I felt a lot better in Warm Up in the cooler temperatures. In the race, I had a good start and made my way up to second and was so much faster than I was yesterday. I had some issues with the bike stability on corner exit but this is normal because we changed the bike so much and then just went into the race with it. Alex passed me a few laps before the end and I think we must be really happy with P5 after all the difficulties we have had here. So, a really positive result after a difficult race yesterday, and I am looking forward to Misano!”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
“It is always a pleasure to be in California and in particular the Laguna Seca race track. Even though last year we suffered badly with our performance here, the race today has confirmed the huge improvements made in the R1’s performance and in the overall competitiveness of the project. It was great to see Michael and Alex entertaining everybody with extremely hard but fair racing and both riders did a great job from start to finish. We closed the gap significantly to the winner and with a couple more laps of the race Alex could have potentially have backed up his podium from yesterday. Thanks to the team, to Yamaha, and to the riders for their hard work and expertise. We look forward to going to Misano in two weeks where we were extremely competitive last year!”