Alex Lowes reclaimed third position in the WorldSBK championship standings from his Pata Yamaha WorldSBK teammate, Michael van der Mark, with a strong showing in Portimão today. The 28-year-old Briton stormed to a podium finish with third place in the Superpole Sprint race, before getting the better of a titanic race-long battle with compatriot Leon Haslam to finish in a creditable fourth place in Race 2.
Lowes’ performance in today’s two races shows the resilience of the Pata Yamaha rider, who bounced back from a frustrating Race 1, in which he struggled throughout for rear grip. Yesterday Lowes saw his teammate finish on the podium and take a two-point advantage in the standings but responded with two strong performances today to reclaim third place in the championship with a five-point advantage over van der Mark in fourth.
Van der Mark went into Race 2 looking to repeat his podium success of yesterday, but changes to the set-up of his Yamaha YZF-R1 ahead of the race failed to bring the expected improvements and the 26-year-old Dutchman struggled to maintain a consistent pace as a result. The Pata Yamaha rider was involved in an intense battle with fellow Yamaha rider, Loris Baz, in the final stages of the race, with the Frenchman gaining the advantage on the final lap to take sixth place, with van der Mark following him home in seventh.
It was another difficult weekend for Marco Melandri, as he continues to search for a set-up to suit his riding style, but his feeling with the bike in Race 2 was better than it had been in Race 1 and the veteran Italian took advantage to claim his best result of the weekend with eighth place.
Sandro Cortese racked up his third top-ten finish of the weekend this afternoon, adding a tenth place in Race 2 to the eighth places he secured in Race 1 yesterday and the Superpole race this morning. The reigning Supersport World Champion was satisfied with a weekend in which his confidence has been restored following injury in qualifying for the Donington Park round, but also slightly frustrated that a lack of rear grip stopped him meeting his own expectations in today’s final race outing.
Loris Baz paid heavily for an error in qualifying yesterday, which saw him starting from the fifth row of the grid in this morning’s Superpole race. Despite a less than ideal start, the Frenchman had managed to fight his way through the field to claim ninth at the chequered flag, securing himself a start from the third row of the grid for Race 2. Having lost time on the leading two groups passing Tom Sykes, Baz found himself three seconds adrift of van der Mark in sixth place as the race entered the final stages. The Ten Kate Yamaha rider got his head down and managed to catch the Dutchman with four laps to go, getting the better of the subsequent battle to deny the Pata Yamaha rider sixth place on the line.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P3 and P4 – Championship Position P3 – 249 Points
“Yesterday I was a bit frustrated because a lack of grip in the latter stages meant I couldn’t really race, but it was the complete opposite today, with two really good races. The battle with Leon Haslam in Race 2 was fantastic and really good fun. He was struggling with the front and I was struggling more with the rear, so while he could get the run on me, he couldn’t get the bike stopped, which made for a really close race. To get a third and a fourth today, at a track where I’ve struggled a bit in the past when it’s hot, is fantastic. Good racing, I really enjoyed it and now I’m looking forward to Magny-Cours.”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P6 and P7 – Championship Position P4 – 244 Points
“The Superpole race wasn’t easy, but our goal was to improve the feeling with the bike and secure a better grid position for Race 2 and we achieved that. We made a small change to the set up ahead of Race 2 and, as a result, I struggled a lot more than yesterday, unfortunately. Yesterday I could ride the bike exactly how I wanted, but today I simply didn’t have a good feeling from the start and wasn’t able to maintain a consistent pace. I lost a lot of time, which is a shame, but we know where we need to improve and I’m confident we’ll be back at the front in Magny-Cours, which is a track I really like.”