Fantastic performance from van der Mark gives Yamaha first win since 2011
There were hints at Thailand that it was close – and then again at his home race at Assen. In both rounds, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) was just missing a small sliver of luck or pace to push him one step higher at the arrival to Parc Fermé. Finally, it was third time lucky for the flying Dutchman: on Saturday at Donington Park, van der Mark transformed speed into success, with his first ever race win on the WorldSBK paddock.
As with most maiden wins, it was anything but easy for van der Mark. The Yamaha rider had to pick off the two riders that had dominated the weekend so far, both home riders and winners of the last eleven races at Donington. Obviously van der Mark didn’t read the script: he stalked the pair for several laps, waited for a mistake to pass Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) – the championship leader’s description of him as a “silent assassin” was as accurate as they come – before crossing ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) through Turn 11.
“I saw they were battling, and I wasn’t sure about my pace for the whole race, so I just stayed behind them”, recalled a euphoric van der Mark after the race. “Even though they were battling the pace was still fast. We were pulling away from the guys in fourth place so that was a bit my plan – then I saw them struggling, so I attacked”.
It was a cool composed performance from the Dutchman, who picked his moments perfectly: “Johnny made a mistake first so I made the pass, and then I saw Tom was struggling a bit. After the pass I managed to pull a gap. Johnny came quite close at the end and I had to push really hard”.
“I’m so happy with this first victory”, he admits. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, I’ve been in Superbike for four years, the Yamaha project for four years, but finally have my first victory. We showed everyone that the bike is improving”.
His teammate Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), fourth on the day and never out of sight of the lead, was just as happy for his Dutch colleague: “For this team, and everything they’ve put into it, it’s nice to see Michael get his first win. He rode a fantastic race, big congratulations to him and his side of the team, but also the whole team in general because they work so hard”.
Lowes couldn’t follow van der Mark but was not far off Sykes and the podium places. Tomorrow he starts from pole, a much better starting point than today’s fifth. Could he be next in front of his home fans? “Obviously I would have liked to have got the first win. But like I said, congratulations to him! Starting from pole tomorrow, maybe it can be my turn!”
“I’ve got extra family and friends here this weekend that don’t always get the chance to go to races, so that’s really nice for me”, he says. “Unfortunately, today fourth was all I could do, but they’re going to be here tomorrow so let’s see!”
Can the Pata Yamaha team keep up the pace tomorrow? Find out live and rewatch all the highlights from Saturday’s historic race thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.