The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team enjoyed an encouraging start to round ten of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship on Friday despite tricky conditions due to high winds and a bumpy track at Portimao. Alex Lowes ended the day in seventh on the combined timesheets after showing good improvement in both sessions. His teammate Michael van der Mark also made good progress throughout the day to finish in ninth place, with both riders making it directly through to SP2 on Saturday.
Lowes, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Thursday, wasted no time in getting down to business on Friday morning in FP1 as he set the fifth fastest time of the session with a 1:43.995. The wind picked up in the afternoon and made it tricky for the riders in FP2 but Lowes still managed to knock another three-tenths off his time, setting a 1:43.677 to end the day seventh on the combined timesheets, and confident he can make more progress on Saturday.
Van der Mark eased his way into FP1, building his feeling on his R1 around the bumpy and undulating 4.592km Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in the windy conditions. He finished FP1 in seventh-place after setting a 1:44.452, but there was more to come in the afternoon. The 24-year-old Dutch rider made a breakthrough in his setup towards the end of FP2 to improve dramatically to a 1:43.854, just 0.177s behind his teammate Lowes, and finished the day in ninth overall, happy with the progress made.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are back in action on Saturday at 9:05am local time for Free Practice 3, with SP2 scheduled for 11:25am and the 20-lap Race 1 at 3pm. Click here for the results.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 7th – 1:43.677
“To be honest, we are struggling a bit to find the right setup for the track and the best balance with my R1. I need to improve my feeling with the bike, so we have a lot of work to do tonight to try and find a slightly better direction. It has been one of the more difficult Fridays we have had, but it is always like that at this track, especially after a few weeks off the bike. Hopefully, we can make a big step for tomorrow morning!”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK – 9th – 1:43.854
“P9 looks worse than it is, especially because this afternoon I struggled with changing direction on the bike but towards the end, we made a good step and I managed to improve my lap time quite a lot. We just need to find a little bit more pace and to improve the grip with the rear, if we can do this we are able to do quite a good and consistent pace. I am happy to be in SP2 again and I think we can be reasonably satisfied with today, but looking for more tomorrow.”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
“It’s great to be back at Portimao, one of the most exciting circuits in the world. It looks a little bumpier than we were here last and that combined with the very, very strong winds this afternoon made for difficult conditions to find the best balance with the YZF-R1. There is more performance to come from the bike and the riders -. we need to make the bike a little easier to ride in certain sections of the track, in order to build the rider’s confidence and allow them to flow and improve their pace and consistency. We have 25 minutes on Saturday morning to evaluate the solutions the team engineers come up with this evening and we will do our best to make absolute positive use of that time and then qualify the bikes as well as possible. A small step forward in performance will see us in the hunt for good positions tomorrow.”