Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla riders Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlıoğlu enjoyed a solid result in fifth and sixth positions respectively during Race 1 at MotorLand Aragón today.
After making refinements to the set-ups of their Yamaha R1 machines in preparation for the first points-paying race of the weekend, both riders were determined to be able to fight for the podium.
However, with less than a second covering the top 12 riders in an incredibly tight Superpole session this morning, the Pata Yamaha riders found themselves starting uncharacteristically from the third and fourth rows of the grid, with Van der Mark in eight and Razgatlıoğlu in 11th.
Van der Mark made an impressive jump to fifth position within the first few corners of the opening lap, carving his way through the competition. He was able to stick to the tail of the leading group of riders and at one point make a brief appearance into the podium positions. The Dutchman maintained his own pace in fourth for the second half of the race and was caught only by Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s Ducati at the long back straight on the penultimate lap.
Despite finishing behind his teammate in sixth place, the abrasive nature of the Spanish circuit was more challenging for Razgatlıoğlu. The young Turkish rider gained five positions through a series of early overtakes, but struggled with grip over the race distance.
As per WorldSBK’s unique three-race weekend format, the two Pata Yamaha riders will have a chance to improve their grid position for the second full-length race in the morning during a thrilling 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race, where the top nine positions determine the first three rows and offer crucial additional points towards the overall championship. The sprint race takes place at 11:00 local time (GMT+1) followed by Race 2 at 14:00.
Michael van der Mark: P5
“We made some changes this morning on the bike after yesterday, and I was feeling strong. In FP3 I felt really good with the bike and then in Superpole I was happy with my lap, but it was just not enough to be on the first two rows because the field was so close. Eighth was not ideal but I did at least have a decent start in the race, gaining a couple of places in the first few laps. I had good pace but I struggled in some areas to stay with the guys in front of me. That meant I had to play catch up every lap and at a certain point I was just a little bit slower and struggling more. I’m happy with the overall pace and unfortunately Rinaldi passed me at the end, but I think if we can improve the bike on some small areas, for sure we can fight for a podium tomorrow.”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: P6
“In the race, we made a good start but in the end the rear grip didn’t feel too great, similar to Portimao. Normally we would try a different set-up for this and usually that would work well, but in the race after five or six laps I felt the grip drop and then in the last few laps there was another big drop. Sixth position is OK, but I’m not happy because normally if there is a good feeling with the grip I can go with the front group. We will try maybe a different set-up to help this, and I will also try to improve – we will see tomorrow.”
Paul Denning, Team Principal
“Qualifying was very, very close and unfortunately we just fell the wrong side of the first and second row lap times and created ourselves some difficulty starting from the third and fourth rows. Michael in particular made an awesome start and rode a very strong first lap. This helped to set up a very solid finish in P5, eight seconds from the winner. Those numbers are not “exciting” but this is a circuit where we’ve always struggled, honestly speaking, and with some refinement for tomorrow we think this potential can be improved further. Toprak simply had a tough race, but P6 and solid points was as good as we could hope for. In typical fashion, some hard passes and aggressive moves at the start of the race meant that he was at least able to score very good points. We’ll move on to tomorrow, try to improve the tyre life further and do our best to run with the fast guys.”