Gerloff and van der Mark led BMW’s charge to have two bikes in the top seven in Race 1 as their upturn in form continued
Saturday at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve was a strong day for German manufacturer BMW as they finished with two bikes in the top seven, including Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) taking fourth and Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) seventh in Race 1 for the Pirelli Portuguese Round. BMW have started pulling away from Honda in the battle for fourth in the Manufacturers’ battle in this season’s MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign.
The day started well for BMW with van der Mark taking seventh in the morning Tissot Superpole session, taking lead rider honours for the German brand. All five manufacturers were in the top seven in Superpole, and three BMW machines were in the top 12 with the #60’s teammate, Scott Redding, 11th and Gerloff in 12th.
Despite his fourth row starting position, the #31 was able to fight his way up to the top four battle where he would scrap it out with van der Mark, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), with the American coming through on stablemate van der Mark on Lap 12 for fourth at Turn 1 as he made it three top-five finishes in seven races.
Reflecting on his race, the six-time podium finisher said: “I didn’t really know what to expect today! I’ve been feeling really good on the bike, but I think it only showed in FP1. I felt really good and that we had a weapon to fight with, but I didn’t have the best Superpole. Starting from the fourth row, it’s never going to be an easy race. Right from the start, I felt like I had an awesome bike and that I could make inroads and stay close to people under braking and outdrive people. It made it simpler which was really helpful.”
Van der Mark got a great start as he propelled himself into the top four instantly, where he remained throughout the first half of the race. He was able to keep up with race winner Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and podium finishers Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) before he fell away and battled with Lowes firstly, and then Gerloff and Gardner.
Talking about Race 1, van der Mark said: “I’m really happy with today’s results. Honestly, all weekend I’ve been happy with the bike, with the package, and I’m starting to get the old feeling back again. This morning, in Superpole, I was quite happy with my lap. I made a few mistakes, so I think I could’ve gone a bit faster, but I was happy with the bike. We went into the race with it. I had a good start, and it was nice to stay with the front group for a while. It’s been a while since the last time! Finishing seventh at the end isn’t something I’m really happy about but the most important thing is the package seemed to work and I’m getting my speed back.”
BMW scored 13 points for the Manufacturers’ Championship standings courtesy of Gerloff’s fourth place, the third time in six rounds they’ve achieved this at every round except Aragon since the UK Round at the start of July while they are now appearing in the top ten more often. They’ve had 26 top-ten appearances in races across all riders – including the two today – since the UK Round as they keep looking to make a step forward and challenge for podiums more regularly.
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