Victory narrowly eludes the Dutchman despite impressive pace throughout the weekend
As the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team enjoyed one of their strongest weekends of the season, Michael van der Mark took them to the brink of their second win of 2019. The top step of the podium proved just out of reach for Michael this weekend but two podium finishes following a crash from the lead of Race 1 saw him end the Pirelli French Round on a high.
Dry running was limited during the weekend but van der Mark proved competitive whatever the weather, qualifying second in Tissot Superpole. The 26-year-old was three laps away from victory, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) closing him down, when he lost the front end into the Adelaide hairpin. Speaking after the weekend, van der Mark began by summing up his Saturday, and took responsibility for the Race 1 slip-up.
“It’s been a weird weekend”, he explained. “In FP1, the track was drying a bit and I felt quite good with the bike straight away. In FP2, we didn’t ride because the forecast said it should be dry Saturday and Sunday but Superpole was completely wet! Race 1 wasn’t the first time in the dry but we hardly had any dry track time. I really enjoyed it and I was leading for quite a while but unfortunately I crashed with a stupid mistake.”
Sunday began with the Tissot Superpole Race and van der Mark challenged at the front once again, settling for a safe third behind Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) and Jonathan Rea, earning him a front row start for Race 2. With Razgatlioglu and Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing - Ducati) eliminated by a Lap 2 collision, van der Mark went head-to-head with Rea for the victory with team-mate Alex Lowes also in contention.
In the end, Rea proved too strong as he clinched a fifth WorldSBK crown but van der Mark believed he pushed the Kawasaki man as hard as he could. With the team securing their first double-podium finish of the 2019 season, confidence is high heading into the Motul Argentinean Round at Circuito San Juan Villicum in October.
“I had a really nice battle with Jonny and I tried everything I could to stay with him but in the end, he was just a little bit quicker” he added. “He had a little bit more drive out of the corners but I’m really happy to be on the podium and especially in Race 2 with Alex. This is a great result for Yamaha. Last year in Argentina, we struggled a lot but the bike has improved. Our main goal, especially in the team, is to finish third (in the championship) so it will be a nice battle for sure and we will try everything to finish third.”
With six races remaining, van der Mark lies fourth overall, 5 points behind Lowes in third. The battle looks set to go all the way down to the wire!
Can van der Mark secure third place overall in the WorldSBK standings? Find out with the WorldSBK VideoPass!