Pata Yamaha Official World SBK team riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes celebrated the MOTUL FIM World Superbike Championship’s return to the Automotodrom Brno after a six-year absence with an intense two-way battle round the flowing Czech circuit. It was Donington double race winner van der Mark who emerged the winner of the two, securing the fourth spot ahead of Brit Lowes in fifth. The two were not each other’s only protagonists, as hot track temperatures dropped the grip levels dramatically and two race re-starts provided further challenges for the YZF-R1 riders.
Dutchman van der Mark began race one from sixth on the grid after a strong qualifying performance and began to hunt down the front pack. Making the most of the diminishing grip levels, van der Mark was able to catch up to teammate Lowes and Italian Marco Melandri who was applying pressure to Tom Sykes for the second position. The Dutch Yamaha rider was ultimately able to get ahead of his teammate towards the end of the race following a fierce fight between them to secure fourth, placing him on the front row for tomorrow’s Brno WSBK race two.
Pata Yamaha’s Lowes made a good start to his Brno race, immediately in striking distance of the podium in pursuit of the front-runners in the opening laps. A fierce pace in the early stages and increased track heat was eventually matched by his teammate, the two engaging in an exciting Yamaha battle for fourth. As the grip levels dropped off, Lowes was unable to maintain the pace he wanted, bringing his R1 home in fifth and taking valuable information to step up from the front of the grid tomorrow in race two.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“We had a good Superpole, I was happy with my lap and qualifying tyre, sixth was not a bad place to start. In the first race start I was making my way to the front then we had a red flag, it was lucky as we had some problems with the rear. For the second start I changed some things on the bike and felt quite strong – I was making my way to the front, but after a few laps I started to struggle with the front, and it was only getting worse and worse. I managed to close the gap to Alex and pass him and I finished fourth but for sure we have to fix the problems on the front to be able to fight for the podium tomorrow.”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“Ultimately I’m disappointed with fifth as I felt I had a better pace than that this weekend. In the race the temperature rose on the track and I think it took everyone by surprise and the lap times were quite slow. I just did the best I could; and we have a lot of information for tomorrow. I’m disappointed for now but looking to improve for tomorrow!”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
“A strong effort from both Michael and Alex today, but we didn’t quite have the performance here at Brno that we hoped for, especially in these higher temperatures. Both guys struggled from a lack of grip compared to the top guys. They both raced really hard, Alex chose a different spec tyre to the rest of the field, but it’s not clear whether this was a step better or worse in terms of overall race distance performance. We start from first and second on the grid tomorrow, we saw how hard they raced together today, so assuming its hot again tomorrow we want to give the guys more to fight with and put the best second race together that we can.”