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Van Der (Off The) Mark Early | SPORT | WSBK

Fastest man on Friday at Assen was also most fortunate, as Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) set the quickest lap at his home circuit and then came close to a big crash just after. “I think I have to have new leathers for tomorrow,” was his comment on his escape from the clutches of the gravel trap.

Of his opening day quickest lap, he said that there was an element of home town throttle lashing, for sure. “It is difficult to say but there is a lot of push that comes from riding at home,” stated a rider looking for his first WorldSBK race win anywhere. “I do not know why. I think nobody can really explain why some – not all – riders can go faster in a home race, but luckily I can some times. And it is more a push than pressure.”

You have to have the speed from the bike to go quickly, no matter what and there is still some work to do for VDM, despite his top Friday performance.

“Today I felt really strong from the start. The only thing I was struggling with this morning was grip and we managed to improve that a little bit in the second session. I was still quite safe for Superpole two so we did not try to do strange crazy stuff in FP2. In the third session I did a long run was quite consistent but not as fast as I wanted to be. After that I went out to set a time and I felt really good, was not the cleanest lap but enough for today and I felt so much better with the bike when I could push for one lap.”

His near crash was simply trying to go faster after his fastest time had been set. “I tried to push for another lap – but it did not work…!”

With Japanese Superbike inspired electronic software on his bike now, van Der Mark has found some immediate help, but more importantly, more consistency of its performance.

“For us the most positive thing about it is that it is working to a really good level everywhere we come,” he stated. “We do not change a lot we just make small steps. So we do not get lost so easy. All things have to be done together. We struggled a bit with grip, and that can be the engine or electronics, or the chassis settings and we need to balance it up. That is the only thing we will focus on because at the moment I am fighting too much with the bike. For us the heat at Assen is a little bit easier, we have a good steady track temperature so we have to enjoy it and be happy.”