Honda rider tops the timesheets in Thai Tissot-Superpole
Michael van der Mark has set the first ever pole position for a Dutch rider in WorldSBK history, two tenths clear of the Kawasaki pairing at the top of the timesheets to record Honda’s first pole position since Imola 2014.
After varying grip levels on Friday at Chang International Circuit, Saturday’s Tissot-Superpole 1 session left a lot to play for. With both Milwaukee riders in a 1-2 at the top, led by Czech rider Karel Abraham, the SMR team looked set to get both riders through to Superpole 2 until a late lap by Matteo Baiocco put the Italian rider into P2. Baiocco, who is standing in for injured Italian Fabio Menghi at VFT Racing, then progressed to Superpole 2 along with Karel Abraham.
In Superpole 2, it was Honda and Yamaha who initially dueled over the top grid spots, with Michael van der Mark leading the session and the Pata Yamaha duo slotting in behind the Dutchman. Ducati’s Chaz Davies then put in a lap that kickstarted the rush of activity towards the end of the session, with the Welshman getting close to his teammate Davide Giugliano on track as he set the lap.
As the red sectors to appear for many riders, the Kawasaki duo of Rea and Sykes set identical lap times to move up the timesheets and lock out P2 (Sykes) and P3 (Rea) in the final classification, ahead of Davies on the Panigale R and Guintoli, who took the new YZF R1 into the top 5 once again.
The lights go out for Race 1 at 4pm local time (9am GMT) for van der Mark to take on the next challenge: to fight for his maiden win in WorldSBK.