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Lowes Returns to the Podium in Sweltering and Slippery Misano

Alex Lowes returned to the podium today in Misano, with a superb ride to second place in the 10-lap Superpole sprint race. The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider looked all set to repeat his podium performance in Race 2 this afternoon but, with grip levels at an all-time low, Lowes erred on the side of caution and took the points for fourth place rather than risking all to pass Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam on the final lap.

Rising temperatures and a slick track surface made for a difficult first outing for the WorldSBK grid today but, unfazed by the tricky conditions, Lowes rode an intelligent race to second place in the 10-lap sprint race. Grip was at even more of a premium for Race 2, with a number of riders caught out by the increasingly unpredictable track, but Lowes again rode to the limit dictated by the conditions, to round out his weekend with another points scoring finish in fourth place. The results mean that Lowes remains fourth in the championship standings with 164 points, but with the gap to his teammate in third now just 24 points.

It proved a frustrating day for GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Sandro Cortese, with crashes in both races while running close to the front. The reigning Supersport World Champion made the most of a front row start in the sprint race to initially challenge for the podium but was left disappointed after losing the front and crashing out of third place just after half race distance. Cortese was keen to make amends in Race 2 but, again, the GRT Yamaha rider was caught out by the tricky conditions in the early stages and crashed while running with the lead group. Cortese managed to rejoin and salvage a single point in 15th place at the chequered flag.

Marco Melandri rode an impressive sprint race, which he started from 19th on the grid as a result of a penalty imposed after Race 2 in Jerez. The veteran Italian picked up places on every lap to eventually finish sixth and claim a second row start for Race 2. Unfortunately, Melandri was unable to capitalise on this due to a crash on lap 13 while challenging for the podium positions. The GRT Yamaha rider remounted but finished outside the points in 16th place.

Loris Baz continued his familiarization with the Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK R1 today, but with hot and sunny conditions replacing the torrential rain of yesterday, the Frenchman was unable to replicate his top five finish in Race 1 today. 12th in the sprint race this morning, Baz rounded out his Misano weekend with a points scoring 12th place finish again in Race 2 this afternoon.

Pata Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark returned to the Misano paddock today, following his heavy crash in FP2 on Friday. The Jerez race winner was sporting a plaster cast on his injured wrist but was able to confirm that further examination had revealed that the two ribs thought fractured on Friday were in fact just bruised. Van der Mark will undergo surgery at Rimini Hospital to plate his fractured right radius, after which a decision will be made in conjunction with his medical team as to when he will be fit to return to action.

Alex Lowes
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK

“The weekend has been a pretty good one overall, marred only by the mistake yesterday when I was trying to win Race 1. I got caught out by new standing water, which was a bit unexpected at that point in the race, but I’ll learn from it. This morning was good, and I was expecting to be stronger this afternoon, but we struggled a bit with acceleration as the temperature rose and grip went down. We’d made some changes to the bike compared to Friday, but the worsening track condition made it difficult to assess whether these were an improvement or not. It was tough for everyone in the race today. I tried to pass Haslam a few times, but I didn’t feel comfortable on the front and couldn’t make the passes stick, so I had to settle for fourth in the end. Now it’s off to Donington, my home track, after a two-day test in Suzuka – I’m looking forward to it!”

Sandro Cortese
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK

“First of all, I’m very sorry for the team and my crew, as they did a fantastic job this weekend and it’s a shame we leave here with just one point after today, because a lot more was possible, including a first WorldSBK podium finish. The positive thing is that we made a big step since Jerez and I was able to run with the front group, which was our goal for this weekend. In the end I had two crashes where I lost the front and both times I didn’t feel I was on the limit but, once again, I learned a lot this weekend. A big shame and a big disappointment because everyone gave their all this weekend. But that’s racing; you have ups and you have downs. Now I am looking forward to working hard to be ready for Donington.”

Marco Melandri
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK

“Actually, it was a good weekend for me, even if I missed the result in Race 2 today. In the sprint race the bike felt much better for me; we knew it was going to be hard to finish top nine from 19th on the grid but, in the end, I had a little bit of luck and finished sixth. In Race 2 I got a good start, but I wasn’t going to accept to finish fourth, so I was pushing hard to pass Haslam, which wasn’t easy. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake and went down. I’m sorry for the team and for Yamaha because they’ve been working so hard and they never gave up, even after difficult days. That makes me more motivated than ever for the next round in Donington, a track that will suit the Yamaha well.”

Loris Baz
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK

“Overall, it’s been a good weekend, with the fourth place yesterday putting a smile on people’s faces in the team. The sprint race was tough today, as I was expecting a good feeling after the warm-up, but in the race the feeling was gone and I felt close to crashing on the front in every corner. We made a change for Race 2, but that just moved the problem from the front to the rear and I was spinning up everywhere. It’s the first time I’ve ever had more grip on the last lap than the first! I finished 12th, picked up some points and continued the learning process. At the moment, the most important thing for us is to finish every race, collect the data and increase our understanding of the bike and the tyres. Now we head to Donington, where we will try to make another step.”

Andrea Dosoli
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager

“It’s been a weekend of mixed fortunes in terms of results, but they don’t truly reflect the performance of the Yamaha R1s here in Misano. Michael was fastest in the dry on Friday before his unfortunate FP2 crash left him unable to continue, while Alex returned to the podium with second place in the sprint race and then backed that up with fourth place in Race 2. He was also leading the wet Race 1 by a considerable margin before he was caught out by the worsening conditions and crashed. Loris also showed that our R1 is competitive in the wet by finishing fourth in the same race, despite a limited amount of time on the bike. Sandro demonstrated his pace today by running towards the front in both races, although his challenge for a first WorldSBK podium was ultimately spoiled by two front end crashes. Marco, who on Friday struggled to find the feeling that made him so competitive in Jerez, improved things in the races. Sixth in the wet yesterday was followed by him battling for the podium in a dry Race 2 today, until a small mistake dropped him out of the points. While these performances show clearly that Yamaha has a competitive package in all conditions, we need to continue working to ensure that this is better reflected in the results from the next race onwards.”