Pata Yamaha Primed for Phillip Island Opener
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team concluded a positive preseason at the official two-day Phillip Island test on Tuesday and feel ready for the opening round of the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship at the same venue this weekend. After impressing in private tests at Portimao and Jerez, the team continued the good work in Australia with hardly anything to separate Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes, who finished in sixth and seventh respectively on the overall timesheets, after focussing on race setup and tyre life for the first round of the season.
It has been a busy winter for the team and the riders arrived in Philip Island after attending the Yamaha Motorsports Media Conference in Thailand. They were the guests of Yamaha Motor Corporation and not only got a chance to meet the passionate fans in the region but also to showcase the 2018 Pata Yamaha WorldSBK livery alongside the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales.
Two days of testing followed at Phillip Island, with the team having a busy workload to get through before the beginning of the 2018 season. Michael van der Mark continued his excellent preseason form, ending the test in sixth overall with a best time of 1:31.131 after completing 141 laps over the course of the two days. The 2014 WorldSSP Champion is beginning his second year with Yamaha, having impressed in 2017 with podiums at Portimao and Magny-Cours and finishing sixth overall in the championship standings. For 2018 van der Mark is determined to continue his superb progress with the Pata Yamaha R1 and establish himself as a consistent challenger for the race win. After two top-ten finishes in 2017 at Phillip Island on his debut for the team, van der Mark is looking forward to kicking off his 2018 season at a venue he recorded a double podium at in 2016.
Alex Lowes finished 2017 in fifth overall in the championship after recording four rostrums and establishing himself as a regular podium contender. The 27-year-old British rider has also enjoyed a positive preseason. After impressing at Jerez and Portimao, he arrived at Phillip Island focused on finding a good setup up for the opening race weekend of the year. Completing 143 laps, he ended the two-day test in seventh overall, just behind his teammate with a 1:31.370 after putting in a number of long runs on a variety of tyres, collecting a huge amount of data for the team in an effort to ensure he has the best possible feeling with his Pata Yamaha R1. The 2013 British Superbike Champion likes the Phillip Island circuit, known to reward brave riders, and is looking to build on the promise he showed at the venue last year where he led both races and fought for the victory before securing two fourth-place finishes.
After a long winter, the season is finally upon us and the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team kick off the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship on Friday at 9:45 am local time with Free Practice 1.
Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“We have finished two-days testing here in Phillip Island! It was a good test, the first day was really windy but it is always nice to ride this track and get up to speed. We were quite fast from the start, then during the day, we tried to find the right direction with the setup and we ended up quite fast. On the second day, there was less wind, it was a bit warmer and we were immediately quicker, which was really positive. We tried many things on Tuesday. We had two different bikes, with two different setups, which allowed us to test them back to back and compare. We were really consistent. We need to find a couple of tenths but after a long run, we changed some important details on the R1and I felt a lot better, the bike was easier to ride and I went faster as well. It has been a great test, now we just have to wait for the race week to start. It has been a long winter, I cannot wait to start racing again!”
Alex Lowes – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“We have just finished the last two days of official testing here at Philip Island, and I can’t wait for the WorldSBK Championship to kick off this weekend. Testing has gone pretty well, we had a tricky time trying to find the right feeling with the bike in some parts of the track, but on Tuesday we made some really big steps. We have a lot of information to look over before the weekend and we’ve completed two full race simulations on the tyre options available. Some were positive, some were negative, and I believe we now have as much information, data, and knowledge as anyone, so it is down to us now to put it all into practice and kick the 2018 season off in the best way possible for Yamaha and myself by fighting for the win!”
Paul Denning – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
“It has been a really solid, positive two-day test here in Phillip Island! It is so easy to make a mistake at this track and because the track is so fast, and with the test just days before the first race, you can end up ruining the start to the season. Therefore, the key focus for us was just to be consistent, safe, and to develop the Pata Yamaha R1 for the race weekend.. In the end, we showed good consistency, decent pace, and both sides of the garage are feeling confident ahead of the race weekend. At Phillip Island, the riders know the race is decided on lap 22 not lap 2, so both worked hard to find a good setup to allow them to compete for the full race distance and we are now looking forward to starting the 2018 season!”