Local Hero Van der Mark Shines in the Assen Sun on Friday

2018-04-20 14:19
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team got off to a stunning start on Friday at Round 4 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship at a hot and sunny Assen. It is always a special occasion for Michael van der Mark to race at his home round in front of the passionate Dutch fans and he gave them something to celebrate by topping the overall timesheets with a superb 1:35.156. His teammate Alex Lowes also enjoyed a strong Friday, building his pace throughout the day as he searched for the perfect setting with his Pata Yamaha R1, before finishing in fifth on the combined timesheets with a 1:35.646, 0.490s behind his teammate.

Van der Mark put on a superb display for the passionate Dutch fans that packed the TT Circuit Assen on Friday with the historic circuit bathed in sunshine and track temperatures rising to 37°C. The 25-year-old from Rotterdam was a permanent fixture in the top three on the combined timesheets throughout the day and got off to a blistering start after setting a 1:35.931 to end FP1 in second place. During FP2, wary of using up his tyre allowance, he focused on using the harder rear tyre and showed excellent consistency, with every lap in the 1:36s. In FP3, the 2014 WorldSSP Champion completed a long run and then continued to work on his race pace on the likely race specification tyre, before heading out at the end of the session and lighting up the timing screens in spectacular fashion to record a 1:35.156 and finish 0.243s ahead of the field. Happy with the work completed on Friday, van der Mark now heads into Saturday confident he will be able to challenge at the front during SP2 and Race 1.

His teammate Lowes showed a mature and patient approach on Friday as he searched to improve the setup of his Pata Yamaha R1. Spending most of the day working on the less favoured rear tyre, he ended the morning's FP1 session in seventh with a 1:36.567. In FP2 he continued to work on his race pace and trying to find the right feeling with bike to allow him to fully attack the TT Circuit Assen. In the process, he improved to a 1:36.146 to end the session in eighth and stay ninth on the overall timesheets. The 27-year-old British rider made a superb start to FP3, improving by almost half a second to set a 1:35.731 on just the second lap of his 19-lap race simulation. There was more to come from the 2013 British Superbike Champion, who left it late to head out on a set of fresh tyres towards the end of the session, managing to set a 1:35.646 to end Friday in fifth overall. This saw Lowes join his teammate with direct passage through to SP2 and, confident that he can improve significantly on Saturday, a feeling that the best is yet to come.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action at Round 4 of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship at Assen on Saturday at 8:45 am (CEST) for FP4, with SP2 due to kick off at 10:55 am, and the 21-lap Race 1 scheduled for 1 pm. Check out the combined timesheets from Friday at the TT Circuit Assen.

Michael van der Mark - Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 1st - 1:35.156
"I am really happy with today, I enjoyed it and the team and bike worked well! We started this morning with a very good feeling, we had some small areas we needed to improve, so I was quite happy with my R1 from the start. Then in the second session, we tried to solve a slight grip issue I was having and we found quite a good solution but we decided to use only a hard tyre to see if we could make it work, so, the second session wasn't really the best one. Anyway, we knew we would have some new tyres in FP3 so I did a long run and felt okay. I was losing a bit of time in some areas but towards the end of the long run, we managed to improve it with some adjustments. Then we went for a hot lap and I was really surprised with the time and I am really happy to finish Friday in first position."

Alex Lowes - Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Alex Lowes
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 5th - 1:35.646
"It was a tough day but with some positives to take. We are still haven't found the overall setup I need and, to be honest, I didn't feel very comfortable riding the bike. In my long run, I had a quite a few big problems. We spent all day until the last session on hard tyres so, maybe, we need to adjust the bike a bit for the soft tyres but, from how I felt on the bike, I imagine we can improve the bike quite a lot for tomorrow, so we should be in a decent position because the pace wasn't so bad. It is clear we need to improve and I have done everything today to give the guys enough information. If they can make me feel a bit more comfortable on the bike then I think we can be quite competitive."

Paul Denning - Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal Paul Denning
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"It's fantastic to be in Assen in such beautiful weather and consistent track conditions. Yamaha's engineers have worked hard to give Michael and Alex a better package than we finished Aragon with and the R1 has performed consistently and has been pretty close to the pace in every session as well. It is great to be P1 at the end of Friday with Michael and Alex very close behind. We made a near race-distance run with both riders in FP3 and there is work to do to close the gap on the fastest riders when the tyres have done a few laps. So, we have to remain realistic and work very hard to continue to improve the potential of the R1 and see what we can achieve in qualifying and Race 1 tomorrow."

Source: Yamaha Motor Europe

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