Michael van der Mark made his deferred MotoGP debut at Sepang, the first Dutch rider in the class since Jurgen van den Goorbergh in 2005.
Michael van der Mark made his deferred MotoGP debut at Sepang, the first Dutch rider in the class since Jurgen van den Goorbergh in 2005. And the rider for the Yamaha World Superbike team made a solid impression at his first attempt.
Van der Mark was 19th (out of 22) in both wet and dry; within three seconds of the fastest time in the morning, and barely more than that in the damp afternoon.
He finished ahead of Rabat, Lowes and Rins in the morning; more impressively he was less than four tenths slower than Pedrosa’s factory Honda in the afternoon, and just one place down … and this after the Spaniard had been the only rider to switch to the extra-soft tyre, shaving more than half-a-second off his own lap time.
He had expected to get his first outing at the Aragon GP in September, in place of Rossi on the factory Yamaha after the Italian had suffered a double leg fracture, but was left on one side when the multi-champion made an early recovery.
“An amazing day,” he said later. After waiting for the track to dry in the morning, “I immediately felt quite good and I was comfortable, so I stayed out and enjoyed the opening session. The thing I need to work on most is braking, for me the biggest difference between MotoGP and WorldSBK. They are really powerful and it’s more difficult to find the limit of the braking point.”
Van der Mark is likely to get a second outing on the Monster Yamaha at the final round in Valencia in a fortnight, with no definite news on Jonas Folger, the rider he is replacing.
Team owner Herve Poncharal told Dorna interviewers that although some results of medical tests had come in, there were more to come. “He has some small problems, but nothing too serious. We hope finally there will be a name on what he has got, and what to do about it.
“Valencia is very unlikely, but not impossible.”
It is thought that the German class rookie might be suffering a recurrence of the Epstein-Barr virus, but official confirmation is pending.
By Michael Scott