Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider, Michael van der Mark, stepped onto the top step of the podium for the first time in 2019 today, after a superlative performance saw the 26-year-old take a resounding victory in WorldSBK Race 2 in Jerez. The race win, the first for a Yamaha rider this season, was the perfect way to round out what was an incredibly successful Spanish weekend, in which van der Mark finished on the podium in all three WorldSBK races. Marco Melandri crashed out of Race 2 this afternoon while running at the front, but the GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider departs Jerez with his confidence renewed, having joined van der Mark on the Jerez podium after the Sprint Race this morning. Sandro Cortese completed a solid weekend by securing his best result of the season in Race 2, which he finished in sixth place. It was a weekend to forget for Alex Lowes, who picked up just two championship points today after unfortunate crashes in both races.
Despite starting the Superpole Race from seventh on the grid, van der Mark managed to fight his way through the field to finish second, which secured him the front row start he needed to launch his challenge for the victory in Race 2 this afternoon. The Pata Yamaha rider got a good start and, after a brief battle with Melandri and Toprak Razgatlioglu in the early stages, the Pata Yamaha rider then shadowed reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea, as the pair quickly pulled away from the pursuing pack at the head of the race.
Seven laps into the race, as Rea’s pace started to drop and the chasing group began to close again on the two leaders, van der Mark made his move, outbraking the Kawasaki rider into turn two to take the race lead. The Pata Yamaha rider rode faultlessly for the remainder of the race, increasing his lead over Rea with every lap to win by more than three seconds. The victory, the first for Yamaha this season, consolidated van der Mark’s third place in the championship standings, which he now holds with 188 points.
While van der Mark enjoyed success in Jerez, it was a different story for his teammate, Lowes, who had a day to forget. Despite showing impressive pace all weekend, the Briton was denied a podium finish yesterday by Rea’s overly ambitious passing attempt at the final corner and then picked up just two points in the two races today. A crash while battling with his teammate in the Sprint Race was followed by another on the opening lap of Race 2, as Lowes got pushed wide into turn two, having started from tenth place on the grid. The Pata Yamaha rider managed to rejoin the race, picking up two points for 14th place at the chequered flag.
Melandri repeated his podium success from yesterday by finishing third in the Sprint Race this morning but missed out on points in Race 2 this afternoon. The GRT Yamaha rider led the race away from the line, but a collision with Chaz Davies at turn five saw both riders crash out of the race after just six laps. Melandri has since been sanctioned for the incident.
It was a successful weekend in Jerez for Cortese, with the reigning Supersport World Champion enjoying a return to form after a difficult weekend last time out in Imola. The GRT Yamaha rider finished ninth in the Sprint Race, before going on to claim his best result of the season to date with sixth place in Race 2.
It was a solid debut weekend for the Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK team and their rider Loris Baz. The Frenchman was forced to retire from the Sprint Race on the opening lap due to a technical problem but bounced back to add to his points tally with ninth place in Race 2 this afternoon.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“What an amazing day! I was a bit upset with myself in the Sprint Race because I tried some optimistic overtakes that lost me a lot of time but in the end, I managed to finish second, which put me on the front row for Race 2. I got a good start but then Johnny passed me quite quickly and I was happy to sit behind him and conserve my tyres after Alvaro crashed out. But his pace wasn’t quite what I wanted to do and I could see the group behind were starting to catch us, so I decided to put in a pass and see if I could pull away, which I did. It’s been an incredible weekend and the bike has been great, with only very small changes required. I’m really happy with the progress made with the bike, so many thanks to the team and to Yamaha for all their hard work.”
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“It’s been a tough weekend here in Jerez. In Race 2 I was pushing to make up places after starting from tenth on the grid, because I knew we had the pace to run with the guys at the front if we could get there. I got pushed wide in turn two, which is a bit tight when everyone arrives at the same time on the opening lap, and I slid off. Not what I was hoping for, but the bike was working really well at this track, we had good speed and we were consistent. Unfortunately, we were also a bit unlucky. We need to focus on these positives and continue working so in the same way so that we come back stronger in Misano. Congratulations to Michael and the team on the win today.”