The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team riders Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark closed out the inaugural Argentinian WorldSBK weekend with two points scoring finishes in another challenging race at Circuit San Juan Villicum today. Lowes rode an intelligent race to finish sixth, while van der Mark was disappointed to eventually cross the line in ninth place, after being close to the podium contenders in the early stages of the race.
Starting from the head of the second row of the grid, Lowes got a decent start and was initially able to run with the leading group in fourth, until a concerted attack by Marco Melandri and then Chaz Davies saw him pushed back to sixth.
Lowes then managed to hold off a hard charging Tom Sykes for a number of laps, but eventually had to concede the place to the former World Champion just past the halfway point in the race. The Pata Yamaha rider’s fast and consistent pace in the second half of the race was rewarded with two laps to go when he passed Toprak Razgatlioglu to retake sixth place, which he held to the chequered flag.
Lining up alongside his teammate on the second row of the grid, it was van der Mark who led the charge for Pata Yamaha from the start. The 25-year-old managed to move up to fourth place in the first few corners, but then got pushed wide onto the dirty part of the track as reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea, came through on his inside at turn 12.
By the time van der Mark had regained the racing line, he’d lost four places and any possibility of a top five finish. The Pata Yamaha rider continued to push throughout the remainder of the race and had made it as high as 6th position as the race neared the halfway point, but then dropped back to finish ninth as he struggled with a less than perfect set-up on his R1.
Van der Mark remains third in the championship, 24 points behind second-placed Chaz Davies, while Lowes is currently sixth in the standings with 232 points.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 6th + 10.945
“We were a little bit stronger today, but you don’t want to be finishing sixth and having the guys you want to beat passing you in the race and then pulling a bit of a gap. But towards the end I managed to get a better feeling with the bike and just dug in to get the best result that I could. Something small is just holding us back at the moment. We made a promising start to the weekend, but we didn’t make the step forward we were expecting ahead of the two races. This was definitely a tough track for us and we struggled a bit on acceleration, as I have done for the past few races, but it looks like Michael is also struggling here with the same problem, despite it not affecting him so much in Portimão and Magny-Cours. Now we need to focus on the negative areas, continue working to improve and look forward. That’s all we can do and I know with the development efforts Yamaha is making we will make the steps soon.”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 9th + 15.715
“We made some changes to the bike for morning warm-up, but unfortunately with the half wet and half dry conditions we didn’t learn much. The changes were quite small, so we decided to keep the same settings for the race. I got quite a good start, but I was struggling with the bike straight away. I was able to stay near the front until Johnny came past me and we both went wide and onto the dirty part of the track and I lost four places. It was difficult to recover because I didn’t feel completely comfortable on the bike. The results from this weekend are disappointing given our performance since we came back after the summer break, but we have to keep our focus and make sure we’re ready for the final race in Qatar – the R1 was very good there last year and I’m confident of fighting again for the podium.”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK – Team Principal
“Given the recent run of podiums at every event since returning from the summer break, of course it’s disappointing to leave Argentina with a best race result of sixth. As the track evolved we weren’t able to find the right solutions to give the riders a package that they could fight for the podium with. Nonetheless, it was a good step forward for Alex today, in terms of his overall pace and confidence with the bike, unfortunately marred by a small technical problem without which he may well have been a lot closer to the podium fight. For Michael the race was difficult from the start, getting pushed off the track by Jonathan in the very early stages, losing four places and then struggling to come back from that position. The event itself here has been fantastic, despite some teething problems. Dorna and the circuit have done a great job, there was a huge crowd and we’ll be doing our best to make sure the R1 is more competitive at this venue next year.”