After securing a sensational double podium last time out in Magny-Cours the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team once again demonstrated their competitiveness as they enjoyed a great start to the penultimate round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship on a glorious Friday at Jerez. Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes were almost inseparable as only 0.001s split the teammates on the overall timesheets at the end of the day, with van der Mark finishing in third and Lowes fourth as both riders secured their places in SP2.
Van der Mark has a great relationship with the Jerez circuit, having secured a podium in WorldSBK last year at the track and winning the WorldSSP race at the track in 2014. It was a stunning sunny day in Southern Spain and the Dutch rider continued the rich vein of form that has seen him record two podiums in the last three races as he immediately looked competitive in FP1, setting a 1:41.102 to sit in fifth on the timesheets at the end of the session. The 24-year-old Dutch rider tried out some different tyre variations in the afternoon’s FP2 session, before reverting to the softer option rear for the final few minutes, with the 2014 WorldSSP Champion going out on fresh rubber and managing to improve to a 1:40.890 on his 22nd lap of 26, which was good enough for him to secure third on the overall timesheets, just +0.599s off the pace of the leading rider.
Lowes immediately took a liking to the new track surface at Jerez, one of his favourite circuits, as he shot into second on the timesheets with a 1:41.637 on just his fifth lap in FP1. Battling at the top of the timesheets for the entire session, the 27-year-old British rider improved late on to a 1:40.890 to end the morning in second. As the temperatures rose in the afternoon and confident with his one-lap pace, Lowes decided to focus on race pace in FP2. The 2013 British Superbike Champion ran a 21-lap race simulation, showing incredible consistency and collecting valuable data for his team in the hot conditions at Jerez, setting a best time of 1:41.244 in the session. Lowes ended the day in fourth overall with his time from FP1, just one-thousandths of a second behind his teammate, and just 0.002s off the rider in second.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will return to action on Saturday at the Circuito de Jerez at 8.45 am local time for FP3, with qualifying starting at 10:30 am and the 20-lap Race 1 at 13:00 pm. Check out the full results.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 3rd – 1:40.890
“I am really happy with P3 today! This morning we started off with our base setting and improved and improved, although it was quite difficult because the track was dirty. We didn’t change anything before FP2, as we wanted to see the condition of the track, so I went out this afternoon and did some okay lap times. We then tried the harder tyres but they didn’t feel very good so we went back to the softer option and changed some setting with the front of the bike which meant I was fast again and during the last few laps I improved my time. I am really happy with the bike as we didn’t change it at all and we were fast and very consistent, so I am happy. It has been a long time since we have had weather like this, so we are enjoying it but it could make it difficult for the tyres to last race distance. It will be interesting tomorrow, I think we have a good pace and we found a good setup to work with the tyres. We won’t make many changes, maybe some small ones, but I have felt good since we first arrived so I don’t want to change too much, we will just look at trying to improve our consistency. The new tarmac is amazing, it was just unlucky the rain during the last couple of days made it dirty, but it is so smooth and they have taken out all of the bumps. They did an amazing job which shows in the lap times because everyone is really fast!”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 4th – 1:40.891
“I felt quite good today! I was a little concerned before about how the bike would react to the new surface here at Jerez but the R1 is working really well. There are still a couple of things I want to improve for tomorrow but I would say it has been a really successful first day and I am looking forward to qualifying and Race 1 tomorrow. We do so many laps at Jerez during the winter that if they change one thing about the track, we notice it straight away. I think the changes have been positive and they did a fantastic job, it wasn’t that bumpy before, but now it is great, which is always really nice. We just need to make a few small changes and we will be ready for tomorrow. I think the key for fighting at the front tomorrow could be down to consistency. Today the tyres dropped off quite a lot on the new surface, but that should change as the weekend goes on and the track will get better and better. Today I felt good, we will try and improve the bike a bit overnight and hopefully tomorrow I can fight at the front!”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
“It’s nice to be in Jerez with such beautiful weather for late October and despite some concerns regarding one or two parts of the new asphalt, in fact, there has been no problems either with the surface itself or tyre durability. We have had another very strong Friday and it demonstrates how much progress Yamaha, the team, and the riders have made in terms of developing and improving the WorldSBK R1. Alex did a 21-lap run this afternoon which is always fantastic preparation for the race and gives his guys very detailed data to work on in terms of improving and trying those improvements in FP3 tomorrow morning. Michael also did a medium-length run and improved his pace significantly at the end of FP2, meaning that both Pata Yamaha R1s look very competitive and if all goes well, in what looks like it will be a very close battle for the podium, hopefully, our guys will be a part of it.”