Van der Mark: ‘A great challenge and opportunity’

Tuesday, 3 March 2015 12:49 GMT

Dutchman revved up for 2015, even before Phillip Island…

One of the surprise performances of the Phillip Island season-opener was the remarkable performance of Michael van der Mark. Riding for the Pata Honda World Superbike Team, the reigning World Supersport Champion qualified an impressive fourth on the grid. He went on to finish a notable fifth in Race 1, then leading the second encounter for no less than five laps before crashing out.

Before the race weekend commenced in Australia, caught up with the Dutchman to assess his feelings and expectations ahead of the new campaign.

“It’s a great challenge for me and a great opportunity to join the team with the World Champion,” van der Mark began, as he this year partners reigning World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli to make up an impressive line-up for the team. “I think together we have a strong team and we can learn from each other.

“The bike is little bit heavier, but it has a lot more horsepower. The main thing I have to learn is electronics because there is so much on the bike; it is quite difficult but also really interesting to learn it.”

Going on to establish his goal for the year, van der Mark concluded:

“I want to go faster [laughs]! I am happy. Like any rider, you want to win, but we have to be realistic. I will just wait for the first two or three races and then decide where we are and set a goal to the end of the year. For the moment, I am happy with the progress we are making and I think, if we can keep going like this, it will be a good year. We need to improve little by little.”

For Round 2 on Sunday 22 March, the WorldSBK field will be presented with an all-new challenge as van der Mark and his fellow riders tackle the Chang International Circuit in Thailand for the first time.