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Determined Performance by Pata Yamaha Riders in Race One at Imola

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes showed grit and determination in race one at a sun-drenched Imola on Saturday for round five of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. In a shortened race, due to a red flag, there wasn’t much to separate the two with van der Mark finishing in 7th and his teammate Lowes close behind in 8th.

After qualifying 9th on the grid van der Mark was passed by his teammate off the line, but re-took 9th in the first corner. The Dutch rider was promoted to 8th when Tati Mercado crashed out on lap 3, but could not shake off the attention of his teammate as he set his sights on Eugene Laverty in 7th who was 2 seconds ahead. Gaining in confidence on his R1 as the race went on, he closed the gap to Laverty and pulled off an excellent move at the Tosa hairpin on lap 11 to move up to 7th. Just as he was settling into a good rhythm, the red flag was brought out for an unfortunate incident between his teammate Lowes and Laverty on lap 12, with van der Mark securing 7th place and collecting 9 championship points.

Lowes, who qualified in 11th, enjoyed a great start. The British rider got his R1 off the line well, fighting his teammate into the first turn. A few corners later van der Mark would get his revenge, but due to Mercado’s crash Lowes was in 9th by the third lap. Sticking behind his teammate, Lowes also gained in confidence as the race went on. By lap 12 he had passed Laverty in 8th but there was contact between the two after the overtake, resulting in Laverty crashing and the race being red-flagged. Lowes went on to be classified in 8th, just a second behind his teammate, securing 8 championship points in the process.

Sunday’s race two is scheduled to take place at 13:00pm local time in Imola.

Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team

“This morning in Free Practice 3 we had some problems with the bike, but at the end we fixed the problems and I felt quite good. I did a good lap in SP2 on the race tyre then on the qualifier I didn’t feel very happy on the bike and I had to fight a lot with my R1. I had a pretty normal start and was in a group with some other riders and at the end I passed Laverty. I felt like I was getting stronger and stronger towards the end, but I struggled a lot with turning the bike. We have to solve this problem to make the bike easier to ride on this style of track. I think starting from 9th we must be happy with the points we scored. Everyone can see it is a difficult weekend for us, so every point we score we must be happy with. Usually my race pace is quite consistent and especially at this track you see some riders struggle more and more with the grip as the race goes on. I know at the end of the race I can be strong, so hopefully tomorrow we can stay closer to the front group at the start and catch some riders at the end.”

Alex Lowes
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team

“I felt quite good on the bike, I was just tucked in behind Michael. Obviously, the race got cut short, so first of all, I hope that Eugene is okay – that’s the most important thing. I passed him at the top of the hill, we had a bit of contact, and it looks like he lost his front brake. I am really happy that he is okay as it was a very unlucky incident. I actually felt quite good in the race, it has been a tough weekend, but I was looking forward to the last few laps thinking that I could have put a good challenge on Michael. Unfortunately, we are too far away from where we need to be, but we will try and improve the R1 a bit for tomorrow and try to improve the result.”

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal

“We expected a challenging race today at Imola. Friday’s build up was difficult and despite the best efforts of Yamaha’s engineers, the race team, and both riders we simply have been a bit further away from the podium-pace here at Imola than anywhere else so far this season. Qualifying didn’t see significant improvements and the mentality of both riders entering the race was to be consistent, grind out the best result possible, and gather important information to improve the R1s for tomorrow. Both Michael and Alex did just that and now we have a platform on which to hopefully build and improve our performance for Sunday’s race. We would like to extend our very best wishes to Eugene Laverty, after the incident with Alex caused the red flag, and we hope he is fit enough to take the grid tomorrow.”

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