The opening race of the FIM Superbike World Championship weekend at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand saw Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes finish fifth and sixth respectively on their YZF-R1s, earning good points once again as they did during the opening round in Australia. With the second race of the Thai weekend to come on Sunday 12th March both Alex and Michael will have another chance to add to their points totals very soon.
After Lowes had qualified fourth in Superpole 2, and van der Mark sixth, both team and riders knew that today's opening 20-lap race offered possibilities to score well.
Van der Mark took his opportunity to record his best result of the year, fifth place, after 20-laps in which he had to pass his team-mate early in the race and then concentrate through the hot conditions to bring it home just over three seconds from a podium finish.
Lowes, not feeling quite as comfortable on his machine as his team-mate in this particular race, was a clear sixth; over 11 seconds ahead of the rider in seventh place.
As was the case in Australia, the new championship rules governing the grid for race two will change the starting positions for many riders, including Lowes and van der Mark on Sunday. Michael will now start second on the grid and Alex third, with the race one podium finishers now relegated to the third row.
Michael van der MarkPata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
I was really happy with Superpole. We made a big step this morning then Superpole was really good and sixth was very positive for us at this stage of the year. Third to sixth place was really close in Superpole. That was important for us to be in there with them. For the Race I got a decent start and kept my position. For the first couple of laps Alex and I lost a bit in the first two sectors but in the corners we made it up. I am really happy because I was really consistent through the whole race - we just need to find a little bit more! I am happy with fifth place in my second race weekend with the team. I think everyone can be really happy today!
Alex LowesPata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
Superpole was good because we went in with a new setting on the bike, new tyres and it felt really good. We stuck with that for the race. As the tyres dropped it was not quite as good as it had been in Superpole but it was still a step up from what we had during the practice sessions. I have struggled all weekend finding the feeling that I want and I had to settle for sixth in that race. I am hopeful of some improvements tomorrow, to get my feeling back a little bit and have a good race. My tyre in the race today was good at the end, almost too good, and I think I can work it a bit more at the beginning tomorrow. I seemed to be spinning too much rather than me using the tyre to the full so I am quite confident we can make some improvements before race two.