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Mixed fortunes for Lowes and van der Mark on opening day at Misano

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team enjoyed mixed fortunes on the opening day of Round 9 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. Alex Lowes ended the day fifth on combined times, while Michael van der Mark was disappointed to miss out on automatic entry to Superpole 2 after finishing in 12th position. The two full time riders are joined on track this weekend by Niccolò Canepa, who finished today as the 15th fastest rider.

The first two free practice sessions were held in the hot and humid conditions for which Misano is renowned, but the onset of rain late in the afternoon meant that the third and final 40-minute session was a washout, with only two riders venturing out to set a lap time. This increased the challenge faced by the team to fully evaluate the extensive tyre options provided by Pirelli for the tyre manufacturer’s “home event”.

Lowes was both fast and consistent from the outset today, ending the first free practice session in second place, just 0.135s from the top spot. The 27-year-old British rider then improved his lap time in FP2 to secure fifth place on the timesheet, but the opportunity to improve further was denied him when FP3 was effectively rained off.

Van der Mark finished the opening 40-minute free practice session inside the top ten but slipped to 12th in FP2. The 25-year-old Dutch rider improved on his previous best lap time in the afternoon, but it wasn’t a big enough step to secure him automatic entry into tomorrow’s Superpole 2 session.

Canepa enjoyed a solid start to his second wildcard appearance of the season in Misano, posting a time of 1’36.136 in FP2 to finish the day 15th and less than one second from a top ten position.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are back in action tomorrow, with FP4 at 08.45 CEST followed by Superpole 1 at 10.30 CEST.

Alex Lowes

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – P5 – 1:35.048

“I felt really good in both sessions today, improving the bike little by little and also managing to get some laps in on the new tyres Pirelli have brought this weekend. We’re in quite a good position, but I just want to improve a little bit my feeling with the front of the R1 during the last part of corner entry, just to give me a bit more confidence. If I can do that then I think we can have a really strong race and challenge for the podium, which is my target.”

Michael van der Mark

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – P12 – 1:35.663

“Overall a difficult day. I felt quite good this morning but we were missing in some areas. We improved things in FP2, but not as much as the other guys unfortunately. We had a clear plan for the final session today but then it started raining, which wasn’t ideal. Now we will try the same plan in FP4 tomorrow morning and, hopefully, progress through to Superpole 2, because it’s really important to start the race from the front three rows here in Misano.”

Niccolò Canepa

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – P5 – 1:36.136

“I enjoyed today! It was great to get back on the Pata Yamaha R1 and I love riding here at Misano. I felt pretty good, it was a shame that it rained for FP3 as we effectively missed a session but I am happy with the work done in FP1 & FP2. I would have liked to be in the top ten but I am not that far back and it will be good to get the extra track time in SP1. We have some things to work on overnight but I am confident for qualifying and Race 1 tomorrow.”

Paul Denning

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – Team Principal

“After two strong races in Laguna Seca we were expecting the R1 to work well here in Misano, even with the higher temperatures, and that’s proved to be the case. Alex in particular had a good feeling from the start and has only needed minor adjustments to the base setting in order to be fast and, more importantly, very consistent. He’s not wasted a single lap and despite missing FP3 because of the rain, as everyone did, we have enough information to make solid decisions as we go into FP4, qualifying and the first race.

Michael has had a less easy time finding his rhythm here, at a track at which he almost won at last year and has needed slightly bigger changes to the starting set up on his R1 in order to get fully comfortable and up to speed. That said, Michael’s level as a racer is always completely different to the free practice result, the lap times are very close, so we fully expect we’ll take a step tomorrow morning and Michael will be able to show his true potential over the course of the 21-lap race tomorrow.

Nico has shown very good pace here today and looks comfortable and fast – and most importantly happy! His Yamaha EU support crew are using the event both to go as fast as possible and to learn more development lessons for the future, so we are grateful for their efforts!”

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