The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team got off to an encouraging start on an exciting and close-fought Friday at Round 2 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship in Thailand that saw half a second separate the top ten. Michael van der Mark impressed in the heat and humidity at the Chang International Circuit to end the day in seventh position on the overall timesheets, incredibly just 0.242s off the pace of the fastest rider. His teammate Alex Lowes showed good consistency, steadily improving in every session before ending the day in tenth overall, just 0.528s off the top.
Van der Mark worked his way steadily through the opening day in Thailand, with the 25-year-old Dutch rider making good progress as he managed to improve in each session. He eased his way into FP1, finishing in 12th overall with a 1:34.765. The 2014 WorldSSP Champion then stepped up a gear in FP2, improving by over seven-tenths to end the 40-minute session with a 1:34.068, which saw him move up to fifth overall. In the final track session of the day, van der Mark made some tweaks to his Pata Yamaha R1 and managed to shave another half a second off his time, to finish Friday in seventh overall and automatically make it through to SP2 on Saturday.
Lowes showed good pace straight out of the box in FP1, ending the session in sixth with a 1:34.437. The 27-year-old British rider then improved to a 1:34.144 in FP2 to finish in eighth overall just 0.293s behind the fastest rider. Just like his teammate, Lowes then managed to show good improvement again in FP3 to record a 1:33.855, which incredibly saw him end Friday in tenth position, despite only being 0.528s off the pace. The 2013 British Superbike Champion, therefore, joins his teammate in going directly through to SP2 and is confident there is more to come on Saturday.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action on Saturday at 10:45 am with the 20-minute FP4 session, ahead of SP2 at 1:55 pm local time, with Race 1 scheduled to start 4pm.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 7th – 1:33.569
“I’m really happy with today! We started quite solidly this morning but kept on improving bit by bit and it was pretty clear what I needed for the second session. We went out looking for rear grip but didn’t really find much, so we changed the bike a lot, then I found the grip and I was getting faster and faster. I was feeling quite good, I only felt that we need to make some small changes, so that’s what we did for the third session and I went out on used tyres and at the end of a longer run, I was still quite fast, which is a good sign for the race. I am happy to have put in a really fast lap at the end and we are looking forward to tomorrow! We have few things to tweak, but with the times so close, it should be a very exciting race.”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 10th – 1:33.855
“It’s been a good day! We are slowly chipping away each time we go out. I did a longer run and felt okay on the bike and still have a few areas that we know we can improve for tomorrow. Overall, it was a decent day really, we are probably in a better position than P10 looks and I am looking forward to racing!”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
“It has been a solid first day for the team and we have managed to get through most of the evaluations we were hoping to do over the course of the three sessions. The lap times here at Buriram are extremely close and small differences in performance are showing up as big gaps in terms of position. In general, the R1 is performing well at this circuit, we have a couple of areas to focus on, different priorities for both of the riders, but if we can maximise their potential and the potential of the R1 we could have two very interesting races!”