Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider, Michael van der Mark, stepped onto the top step of the podium for the first time in 2019 today, after a superlative performance saw the 26-year-old take a resounding victory in WorldSBK Race 2 in Jerez. The race win, the first for a Yamaha rider this season, was the perfect way to round out what was an incredibly successful Spanish weekend, in which van der Mark finished on the podium in all three WorldSBK races. Marco Melandri crashed out of Race 2 this afternoon while running at the front, but the GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider departs Jerez with his confidence renewed, having joined van der Mark on the Jerez podium after the Sprint Race this morning. Sandro Cortese completed a solid weekend by securing his best result of the season in Race 2, which he finished in sixth place. It was a weekend to forget for Alex Lowes, who picked up just two championship points today after unfortunate crashes in both races.
Despite starting the Superpole Race from seventh on the grid, van der Mark managed to fight his way through the field to finish second, which secured him the front row start he needed to launch his challenge for the victory in Race 2 this afternoon. The Pata Yamaha rider got a good start and, after a brief battle with Melandri and Toprak Razgatlioglu in the early stages, the Pata Yamaha rider then shadowed reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea, as the pair quickly pulled away from the pursuing pack at the head of the race.
Seven laps into the race, as Rea’s pace started to drop and the chasing group began to close again on the two leaders, van der Mark made his move, outbraking the Kawasaki rider into turn two to take the race lead. The Pata Yamaha rider rode faultlessly for the remainder of the race, increasing his lead over Rea with every lap to win by more than three seconds. The victory, the first for Yamaha this season, consolidated van der Mark’s third place in the championship standings, which he now holds with 188 points.
While van der Mark enjoyed success in Jerez, it was a different story for his teammate, Lowes, who had a day to forget. Despite showing impressive pace all weekend, the Briton was denied a podium finish yesterday by Rea’s overly ambitious passing attempt at the final corner and then picked up just two points in the two races today. A crash while battling with his teammate in the Sprint Race was followed by another on the opening lap of Race 2, as Lowes got pushed wide into turn two, having started from tenth place on the grid. The Pata Yamaha rider managed to rejoin the race, picking up two points for 14th place at the chequered flag.
Melandri repeated his podium success from yesterday by finishing third in the Sprint Race this morning but missed out on points in Race 2 this afternoon. The GRT Yamaha rider led the race away from the line, but a collision with Chaz Davies at turn five saw both riders crash out of the race after just six laps. Melandri has since been sanctioned for the incident.
It was a successful weekend in Jerez for Cortese, with the reigning Supersport World Champion enjoying a return to form after a difficult weekend last time out in Imola. The GRT Yamaha rider finished ninth in the Sprint Race, before going on to claim his best result of the season to date with sixth place in Race 2.
It was a solid debut weekend for the Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK team and their rider Loris Baz. The Frenchman was forced to retire from the Sprint Race on the opening lap due to a technical problem but bounced back to add to his points tally with ninth place in Race 2 this afternoon.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“What an amazing day! I was a bit upset with myself in the Sprint Race because I tried some optimistic overtakes that lost me a lot of time but in the end, I managed to finish second, which put me on the front row for Race 2. I got a good start but then Johnny passed me quite quickly and I was happy to sit behind him and conserve my tyres after Alvaro crashed out. But his pace wasn’t quite what I wanted to do and I could see the group behind were starting to catch us, so I decided to put in a pass and see if I could pull away, which I did. It’s been an incredible weekend and the bike has been great, with only very small changes required. I’m really happy with the progress made with the bike, so many thanks to the team and to Yamaha for all their hard work.”
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“It’s been a tough weekend here in Jerez. In Race 2 I was pushing to make up places after starting from tenth on the grid, because I knew we had the pace to run with the guys at the front if we could get there. I got pushed wide in turn two, which is a bit tight when everyone arrives at the same time on the opening lap, and I slid off. Not what I was hoping for, but the bike was working really well at this track, we had good speed and we were consistent. Unfortunately, we were also a bit unlucky. We need to focus on these positives and continue working so in the same way so that we come back stronger in Misano. Congratulations to Michael and the team on the win today.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
“It was a shame to finish the weekend with a crash, but when you think about where we were just two weeks ago and then how we were able to fight for the podium in all three races here in Jerez, it’s something so positive for us. It’s unfortunate that Chaz didn’t leave me the same amount of space I left him when the positions were reversed on the previous lap, but for me it was a racing incident and nothing more. Like I said, it’s a shame, because another podium finish was a real possibility today, even if fighting with Toprak was difficult because he’s so aggressive on the brakes. Anyway, I go home from here much more positive for the future.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
“It was a good race this afternoon, which I finished with my best result of the season. The lap times increased a lot compared to Race 1 yesterday, which meant we didn’t quite have the set-up we needed to run with the front guys and challenge for maybe a fourth place finish today. But, we learned a lot and we know what we need to do for the next race, so I leave Jerez happy with the race result and with the progress we’ve made. Now I’m looking forward to the next race in Misano, where we will aim to fight once again with these guys and, hopefully, secure an even better result.”
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK
“It wasn’t so much fun at the start of the day, but we definitely finished with a smile. We had a technical issue with the bike in warm up and we weren’t able to fix the problem ahead of the sprint race, unfortunately. We managed to resolve the issue for Race 2, but I started with a bike that was set up completely differently to yesterday, so the first laps were all about understanding the bike. I was feeling more confident than yesterday and able to go faster as the race progressed. I’m happy; I still need to improve a little bit, but it was a good start after seven months off the bike. Thanks to the team, as it’s taken a lot of hard work to get us here and thanks also to Yamaha, who gave us a good direction with the set-up of the bike. Now I can’t wait to get to Misano.”
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager
“It’s been a very successful Jerez weekend for Yamaha, culminating in Michael claiming his first race win of the season today. Congratulations to him and the team on the victory, which he secured with an intelligent ride that underlines his continued development as a rider. This bodes well for the future, as we look towards the remaining races this season. What is also clear is that recent developments made by Yamaha Motor Europe together with the teams have significantly improved the R1 as a competitive race package. Commiserations to Alex, whose results this weekend didn’t reflect his pace, but he should focus on the positives now because I am confident that he will realise his full potential in the coming races. It’s also good to see the GRT Yamaha riders back where they should be. They’ve had a few difficult races recently, but they retained their fighting spirit, they never stopped believing and Marco’s two podiums this weekend is just reward for all their hard work. It was nice to see Loris Baz back in the championship aboard a Yamaha here in Jerez. Returning so late in the season is never easy, but we’ve seen some big steps already this weekend and I’m sure this trend will continue in the coming races, as they build a better understanding of the bike.”
“Congratulations to the Bardahl Yamaha riders on their performance today, but especially Federico Caricasulo. He went into the WorldSSP race with a clear strategy, was patient enough to stick to it and then put in two incredible record breaking laps at the end to take the win. It was also good to see Jules Cluzel back on the podium for the first time since Thailand. Finally, I’d also like to congratulate bLU cRU rider, Galang Hendra Pratama, who rode a fantastic WorldSSP300 race today but missed out on a podium finish by the narrowest of margins, to Maria Herrera on securing her best result of the season with 14th place in the WorldSSP race and to Beatriz Neila, who scored her first World Championship points with 13th place in the WorldSSP300 race today. Their performance underlines the fact that motorcycle racing is a truly inclusive sport.”