The first ever FIM World Superbike race in Argentina proved a challenging one for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. Lowes was disappointed with the seventh-place finish at the chequered flag, having been heavily involved in the battle for the podium during the early stages of the race. Van der Mark managed to fight his way up to eighth place, having started from the fourth row of the grid, crossing the finish line just behind his teammate.
It was a particularly disappointing result for Lowes, who'd shown both speed and consistency in every free practice session at Circuito San Juan Villicum and started the race from sixth position on the grid, after a solid performance in the earlier Superpole qualifying session.
Getting a good start from the second row, Lowes quickly moved up to fourth after an aggressive opening lap but as the race progressed and the rear tyre performance dropped off, the 28-year-old Briton lost contact with the leading group. With the rear tyre spinning under acceleration and unable to match their drive out of the turns, the 28-year-old Briton was forced to let the podium battle go and settle for seventh place and the points at the line.
Van der Mark started race one's 21-lap race from 11th position on the grid, after a difficult qualifying path through both of the earlier Superpole sessions. Two small mistakes meant that the 25-year-old didn't manage to make up as many places as expected in the early stages of the race but, once he had a clear track in front of him, van der Mark's pace was similar to that of the frontrunners.
It was a lonely second half of the race for the Dutchman, who eventually followed his Pata Yamaha teammate across the line to finish eighth and pick up vital championship points.
With Race 1 behind them, team thinking turned towards the much more promising prospect of a second row start for the PATA Yamaha pair. The mechanics working hard to change the bike's setup with the learning from race to improve tyre life and long-run performance. Starting from the head of the second row, Lowes got a decent start and was initially able to run with the leading group in fourth position, until an attack by Marco Melandri and then Chaz Davies saw him pushed back to sixth.
Lowes then managed to hold off a hard charging Tom Sykes for a number of laps, but eventually had to concede the place to the former World Champion just past the halfway point in the race. The Pata Yamaha rider's fast and consistent pace in the second half of the race was rewarded with two laps to go when he passed Toprak Razgatlioglu to retake sixth place, which he held to the chequered flag.
Lining up alongside his teammate on the second row of the grid, it was van der Mark who led the charge for Pata Yamaha from the start. The 25-year-old managed to move up to fourth place in the first few corners, but then got pushed wide onto the dirty part of the track as reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea, came through on his inside at turn 12.
By the time van der Mark had regained the racing line, he'd lost four places and any possibility of a top-five finish. The Pata Yamaha rider continued to push throughout the remainder of the race and had made it as high as 6th position as the race neared the halfway point, but then dropped back to finish ninth as he struggled with a less than perfect set-up on his R1.
Van der Mark remains third in the championship, 24 points behind second-placed Chaz Davies, while Lowes is currently sixth in the standings with 232 points.
The WSBK action now head to Qatar for the season-ending finale with 50 points still to play for, second place in the championship is still very much in site for the flying Dutchman looking to come back from a disappointing weekend in the Argentinian sun!