Flying Dutchman rounds off amazing weekend ahead of surprising Razgatlioglu
The odds were stacked against Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) on Sunday. He started from ninth after Saturday’s astonishing win, his first in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Ahead of him: the two works Kawasakis, an Aruba.it Ducati, and his teammate on pole, amongst others.
Van der Mark could have stayed complacent following Saturday’s display, but the Dutchman is quickly gaining a reputation for flipping the script on his Superbike rivals.
Van der Mark took the second win of his weekend and his WorldSBK career, once again showing how well he is able to read races. The Dutchman found himself again at the halfway stage with the rider in pole and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) ahead of him. He repeated yesterday’s strategy to perfection, waiting for any quiver or mistake from the men in front, before setting off an ice-blooded attack at the Melbourne Hairpin, and jetting away into the distance.
“It’s incredible to take my first victory but even better to take the double this weekend”, the rider, still ecstatic, acknowledges. “Thanks to Yamaha and the team, they’ve been waiting so long for this. The win yesterday was already something I really wanted, but a double here is simply fantastic”.
In the early stages, it was enough for van der Mark to avoid any trouble in the middle of the pack and put his race-plan into motion: “Today in the warm-up we tried some small things and weren’t really fast, so we went out to the race without any stress. Starting from P9 is not ideal, especially in the first lap, some riders had some weird overtakes. I just tried to stay calm and find a clean way. Step by step I managed my way to the front”.
By that point, his teammate Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) was out in front, looking for his first WorldSBK race win. “Alex did a fantastic job leading the race for such a long time, I just tried to follow him because his pace was quite good”, he says. With him and Rea bickering for the lead, van der Mark managed to close them down and strike: “Johnny passed me, I just stayed calm and followed them, while they kept fighting. But then I managed to pass Johnny and managed to pull away”.
The indecisive weather was conditioning the Yamaha riders race before then, making him opt for a cautious approach: “We knew there was rain coming but nobody knew when. I saw a few drops of rain, and I think the guys, Alex, Johnny, slowed down a bit as well. I just wanted to follow them because they’re the first ones to try. On the other hand, the track was so warm that the bit of rain we had couldn’t make the track really wet”.
Now van der Mark heads into the midway point of the season having hit the perfect point of form. The Dutchman is just 18 points off Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in second, and while the 82-point gap with Jonathan Rea may seem a step too far, with more results like these, van der Mark could turn many more WorldSBK predictions onto their heads in 2018.
P1 – Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
“It just incredible, I can’t believe it, I had quite a good race, I struggled a bit but I didn’t feel as good as yesterday. So I followed Alex and Jonny, just used my head and in the last few laps they had a battle and I managed to pull away. To take the first win yesterday and now the double, its just incredible.”
P2 – Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
“Today is my team bosses birthday, so a big happy birthday to him! But this position is very good, I am really happy: It’s my first podium so I am really happy, thank you!”
P3 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“It was a huge battle, I really enjoyed it and it was quiet close, I hope everyone out in the crowd and at home enjoyed it. But unfortunately I am disappointed with myself, I ran into arm pump issues which meant I found it hard to change direction and, I had to back off. Third was all we could manage, I’m sorry to my team as they gave me a bike that could win but that as all I could do.”