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. 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”.
van der Mark, still ecstatic, acknowledges.
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”.
Said van der Mark.
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”.
Continued van der Mark.
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”.
Said van der Mark.
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.
WorldSBK Race One: Van Der Mark Shocks Donington With First WorldSBK Win
No non-British rider had won at Donington Park since 2012, and from the practice sessions and Superpole, few would have predicted that would change today in race one. But Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) threw out the script for the Prosecco DOC UK Round with a sensational ride, flying from sixth on the grid to his first ever win in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.
Van der Mark is the first Dutch rider to win in the top class, and the first win for a Yamaha rider since Algarve 2011, race two. The Dutchman left both Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) shocked and fighting for the remaining podium places, with the Northern Irishman in second and ‘Superpoleman’ in third.
The psychological battle between the KRTs, leading the first row, started right from the start. Rea made it ahead at the lights, with the pair squabbling through sector one. Sykes struck back three laps later at the Old Hairpin, but went wide at the Melbourne loop. Two laps later, an aggressive Sykes made it back in front, same move, same spot.
The Kawasakis were poised – and had been widely predicted – to dominate Donington weekend, but van der Mark threw a spanner in the works immediately, the only rider able to keep up with Rea and Sykes after passing his teammate Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). But stalking the KRTs was not enough for the flying Dutchman – Rea went wide at the Melbourne corner on lap 13, the same he’d done a few laps earlier, and van der Mark shot ahead into second.
A couple of laps later, he attacked again. Van der Mark stuck the nose in at Melbourne, yet again, closed the line over Sykes, and blasted away in the lead. But the battle was far from over here: Rea picked his teammate’s pocket around Schwartz with six laps to go, and shot after van der Mark, smelling blood. Yet today it was not to be for the defending champion, the Yamaha rider making no mistakes and meeting the flag.
Behind the sensational podium battle, Lowes finished in fourth, behind his teammate but scoring a fantastic finish at his home race. He will also have the consolation prize of leading the line at race two. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) finally translated his great qualifying and free practice performances into a great race finish, making it in at Donington in fifth, ahead of his teammate, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), in sixth.
With the Kawasaki, Yamaha and Aprilia bikes all phenomenal ahead, it was a sorry day for Ducati, with just Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) making it into the top ten, in eighth position. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) crashed with five laps to go, and goes into race two with no points.
Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) made it in in seventh, with Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finishing ninth following a thrilling battle with his teammate at Donington, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who went to the floor on the final lap. Closing the top ten was Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) on his full WorldSBK return after injury.
WorldSBK Race 1 Results: 1. Michael van der Mark – Yamaha 2. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 3. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki
WorldSBK Race Two: Flying Dutchman Rounds Off Amazing Weekend Ahead Of Surprising Razgatlioglu
The floodgates were opened Saturday, and now there’s no stopping Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). The Dutchman closed an extraordinary weekend at Donington for the Pata Yamaha team with the second win of his MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship career, a win against oll-odds in another fascinating race at the Prosecco DOC UK Round.
A first double for van der Mark, and a first podium for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), beating none other than Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in the closing stages.
A poor start from Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) saw him gobbled up in the mix at the first turn, ceding two places to Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). The Yamaha managed to pick both off in short order however, Haslam at the Fogarty Esses (before the wildcard crashed at Melbourne), and the Italian on lap two. Meanwhile, the two KRTs held a surprisingly aggressive battle, while the other Yamaha quietly made it through to the leading group from ninth on the grid.
Quickly, one third in, the battle for the race turned into a three-way fight, with Lowes sticking strong but Rea taking ghost shots around Craner and Melbourne. Meanwhile, van der Mark, much like he did on Saturday, stalked the front two, biding his time. At the back, Razgatlioglu and Savadori fought nail and tooth for fourth, a few seconds back on the leading group.
After two perfect thirds to the race, it all came apart for Lowes at the end. On lap 17, Rea found a spot at the Melbourne loop, where so many moves have been made over the weekend, and pushed in front from the inside of Lowes, with van der Mark picking off the scraps at Redgate and moving to second. And just like Saturday, one lap later, van der Mark made his race-winning move at that same turn 11. The Ductchman shot off from there, giving his pursuers no option to take away his incredible double.
There was one more surprise left at Donington, however. Amidst the front group bickering, Razgatlioglu found himself with the gap now non-existent. Showing an impressive late-race pace, the Turkish rider picked off Lowes with ease, before setting his sights on the three-time WorldSBK champion. And with one lap to go, he moved up to second. A fitting epilogue to Kenan Sofuoglu’s retirement in the last round: Turkey has a new hero for years to come.
With Rea finally in third, his worst result since the Thai round, and Alex Lowes repeating his Saturday performance in fourth, there was another comeback behind. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) found his way all the way back to twelfth at the start, but a neat ride from the Welshman pushed him back to fifth, ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who couldn’t continue his incredible Donington streak and leaves with his first finish outside the podium since 2011.
Savadori made it to the chequered flag in seventh, just ahead of Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), who pipped Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) to eighth at the final turns, and leaves the UK round with two top-ten finishes on his return. Closing the top ten was Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team), with Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) ending a weekend to forget down in eleventh.
WorldSBK Race 2 Results: 1. Michael van der Mark – Yamaha 2. Toprak Razgatlioglu – Kawasaki 3. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki
WorldSBK Championship Standings
1. Jonathan Rea – 245 points (Kawasaki) 2. Chaz Davies – 181 points (Ducati) 3. Michael van der Mark – 163 points (Yamaha) 4. Tom Sykes – 163 points (Kawasaki) 5. Marco Melandri – 136 points (Ducati)
WorldSSP: Cortese Blows Open WorldSSP Title Race With Stunning UK Win
Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) took the second win of his FIM Supersport World Championship career with a cool, controlled ride in his first venture to Donington Park in nine years. The German shot up to second at the start, and after taking the lead one third into the race managed to defend his lead professionally to the chequered flag in a three-way battle with Jules Cluzel (NRT) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag), second and third.
The race start saw Cluzel shoot off into the lead from pole, building a 0.7 gap with Cortese by lap 1. Defending champion Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) fell to fourth, with De Rosa making the best of the inside line and climbing to third.
After Hiraki Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) crashed out 5 laps in, two packs of three led the race action. Cortese found the moment to attack in lap 8, his one aggressive move through all 20 laps. The German found a gap at Coppice Corner with Cluzel going wide, and sliced in like a hot knife through butter, taking the inside line and rubbing shoulders with the NRT rider. Pushing forward, there was no stopping Cortese with an open track ahead.
De Rosa took advantage of the pair’s squabbles, closing the small gap and setting up a thrilling second half of the race. His moment to push came with five laps to go, pushing up to second over Cluzel after a mistake from the Frenchman. But with one to go, Cluzel struck back, taking another 20 points and confirming that he’s a hot favourite for the title. De Rosa, meanwhile, scores his third consecutive third-place finish, an astonishing feat for the MV Agusta in a Yamaha-heavy top end.
The two WorldSSP leaders up to this point led another stunning battle, but not quite as high up the field as they might have preferred. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) won this duel the hard way, passing Mahias first at the Old Hairpin, falling back 10 laps later after a huge, race-threatening wobble, before pushing behind the Frenchman again with a lap to go. Fourth and fifth for the pair, respectively, who now fall to third and fourth in the championship, behind the Donington top-2.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) struggled to keep up with the leading pace from a seventh position start, and with his sixth place at Donington falls behind in the championship standings.
Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was the best of the rest at the UK Round, meeting the flag in seventh position, with Thomas Gradinger (NRT) in eighth. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), returning to racing action at Donington, also made it into the top-ten in ninth, with Andrew Irwin (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) the first of the home riders here at Donington, in tenth.
WorldSSP Race Results: 1. Sandro Cortese – Yamaha 2. Jules Cluzel – Yamaha 3. Raffaele De Rosa – MV Agusta
Australians: 11. Anthony West – Kawasaki
WorldSSP Championship Standings
1. Sandro Cortese – 102 points (Yamaha) 2. Jules Cluzel – 95 points (Yamaha) 3. Randy Krummenacher – 94 points (Yamaha) 4. Lucas Mahias – 90 points (Yamaha) 5. Federico Caricasulo – 79 points (Yamaha)