Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider, Michael van der Mark, took a hard fought fourth place finish in today’s WorldSBK Race 2 at Circuito San Juan Villicum in Argentina, having caught and passed yesterday’s race winner, Alvaro Bautista, with just four laps of the race remaining. With Alex Lowes finishing in sixth position this afternoon, the Pata Yamaha teammates are now separated by just a single point in the championship standings, with Lowes currently holding the advantage in third place.
Lowes and van der Mark started today’s 21-lap WorldSBK Race 2 from the second row of the grid, having finished this morning’s Superpole Sprint Race in fifth and sixth places respectively. The two Pata Yamaha riders made a good start and, while both were quick to find their rhythm, neither had the outright pace needed to compete for the podium today.
Lowes rode a solid but lonely race to sixth place, lacking the additional pace needed to close the gap to van der Mark ahead of him. The Dutchman managed to find a little bit extra in the closing stages of the race to catch and pass Bautista for fourth place, but the gap to the podium contenders was insurmountable in the few laps remaining.
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Sandro Cortese, was looking to build on his solid top-ten finish in the Superpole Race this afternoon, but the reigning Supersport World Champion and his crew took a gamble on tyre choice that didn’t work as expected and Cortese was disappointed to finish only 15th after struggling for rear grip from lap seven onwards.
Argentina proved another difficult weekend for Marco Melandri, who continues to struggle to adapt the bike to suit his particular riding style. The veteran Italian and his crew have worked tirelessly to find a solution but so far to no avail. Melandri was frustrated to finish 15th in the Superpole Race this morning and then to only improve by one place to finish 14th in Race 2 this afternoon.
The penultimate round of the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship in Argentina proved a painful one for Loris Baz. The Frenchman crashed out of the Superpole Race on the opening lap, at the same corner at which he crashed in qualifying on Saturday morning, but bounced back this afternoon to pick up championship points with a 12th place finish in WorldSBK Race 2.
Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark: Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P4 – Championship P4 – 304 Points
“If you look at the results then it’s not been too bad here in Argentina. It’s been a difficult weekend for everyone, I think, but fourth place yesterday was a good start for me. In the Superpole Race this morning I didn’t really have a good feeling and I struggled a bit with the bike, but we made quite a big change for Race 2 and I felt a lot stronger from the start. Of course there were some areas where I’d have liked to be a little better but, anyway, I picked up another fourth place on a track that proved difficult for us last year, so we must be happy with these points and now look forward to Qatar, where I’m sure we will be even stronger and able to fight for the podium once again.”
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P6 – Championship P3 – 305 Points
“I had a bit of a frustrating start to Race 2. I’ve had a few issues back shifting to first gear and on the opening lap I got a slipstream from Sandro on the straight and was maybe in a bit too fast and I couldn’t get the gear to go in. It was shame, because when you lose track position it’s really difficult to recover. I had good pace, but not quite enough to catch back after losing ground. Michael was in a similar situation in the Superpole Race; he was matching my pace but didn’t have that little bit extra needed to close on me. I felt I rode quite well today, made no mistakes and I enjoyed the race, but I didn’t want to be finishing sixth. But now we need to focus on the final round in Qatar. I’m looking forward to racing there and defending my third position in the championship.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P14 – Championship P9 – 173 Points
“This has been another weekend where I’ve struggled a lot. My main strength is my riding style and, unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be compatible with the bike. Every time I tried to push harder after a few laps I made a lot of mistakes and lost ground. It looks like me and the bike are working in opposite directions still. I’ve tried many things with the team to find a solution this season but, as the results show, we’re still looking.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P15 – Championship P11 – 126 Points
“This morning I had a good Superpole Race after a strong start, and I was looking forward to more of the same in Race 2 this afternoon. Again, I got a good start, but we took a gamble on tyre choice which proved to be a step too far and, after seven laps, the rear tyre was completely done. To be honest, I’m not sure how I managed to finish the race. I’m disappointed and it’s a shame because I think I could have finished with a good result today but, again, we didn’t take the chance that was open to us. So, yes, a big disappointment today.”
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P12 – Championship P12 – 118 Points
“The only goal in the Superpole Race is to finish in the top nine and secure a grid position on the front three rows. I was pushing hard to make up as many places as possible on the opening lap but strayed onto the dirty part of the track while trying to pass Alessandro Delbianco and crashed. The impact was a heavy one and it meant that I was riding with some pain in Race 2 this afternoon. I took no risks in the early laps and came back slowly, losing a bit of time overtaking the guys ahead of me, but eventually finished P12 and not so far away from the top eight or nine guys. It is really frustrating because, like in Magny-Cours, I think we had the pace to stay with the two Pata Yamaha guys, but we scored some points and now we’re not so far from top ten in the championship. I want to say sorry to the guys in the team because the two crashes were really my mistake, but now I will try to recover in the best way I can for Qatar.”
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager
“It’s been a challenging round for everyone here in Argentina, with circumstances beyond our control placing additional pressure on both riders and teams throughout the course of the weekend. I am happy to say that our teams and our riders maintained their focus and overcame the obstacles that we encountered along the way. Michael and Alex did the best that was possible this weekend, with both achieving solid results in the three races. It was a more difficult weekend for Marco and Sandro, whose results today are not what they were looking for after the difficult situation they found themselves in yesterday. Loris showed incredible determination in Race 2 this afternoon, because he was riding in some pain following his crashes in qualifying and the Superpole Race. His commitment was rewarded with a points scoring finish, but we expect him to be back at the sharp end in Qatar once he’s had a chance to recover. Despite all the difficulties experienced this weekend all three WorldSBK races were contested safely. There are lessons to be learned, but it was gratifying to see all of the stakeholders pulling together and overcoming these difficulties for the good of the championship.”