Local hero Michael van der Mark gave the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team and his passionate Dutch supporters something to celebrate at Round 4 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship. After finishing Saturday's Race 1 in second place, he stormed to another podium in Race 2 on Sunday, crossing the line in third to record his best ever WorldSBK weekend.
In contrast, teammate Alex Lowes, who had shown excellent pace all weekend, including his maiden pole position, unfortunately, struggled with front-end grip, but displaying his trademark fighting spirit, battling hard before he crashed at the Geert Timmer chicane on lap 13, courageously remounting though, battling back superbly in the final laps and recovering to finish in 14th place.
Local hero Van der Mark secured a sensational podium on Saturday, setting the fastest lap of Race 1 as he charged from seventh on the grid to cross the line in second, just missing out on the race win by 0.981s after an excellent duel with Jonathan Rea - the closest the Pata Yamaha team have come to victory since their return to WorldSBK in 2016.
The Race 1 result saw Michael start Race 2 from eighth on the grid but after a blistering start, was up to third by the end of lap 1. Once again, he would become involved in another superb battle with championship leader Rea.
The 25-year-old Dutch rider was biding his time and saving his tyres to engage Rea like he did in Race 1 in a fight towards the end but during the final stages, he suffered from a small technical issue with his Pata Yamaha R1 that saw his challenge for second fade.
Instead, he took the chequered flag in a sensational third place with the grandstands in Assen erupting once more for the man from Rotterdam as he secured his best ever points haul from a WorldSBK weekend. In the process, he also recorded the Pata Yamaha Team's - and the new generation Yamaha YZF-R1's - first ever double podium during a race weekend.
The 2014 WorldSSP Champion is now looking like a serious contender and currently resided fourth in the overall standings with 103 points, just 12 behind Marco Melandri in third.
In contrast, it was a tough weekend for his teammate Lowes, who displayed excellent pace in almost every session. This was highlighted by the incredible lap in Saturday's SP2 that saw him take his maiden WorldSBK pole position. Unfortunately, this would be the highlight of his weekend, an error on the grid saw his Pata Yamaha R1 fitted with the wrong front tyre.
Miraculously, he showed superb tenacity to fight his way to finish in 12th. Hoping to bounce back in Sunday's Race 2 from 10th on the grid, he enjoyed a superb start and was up to fifth by the end of lap 2.
Determined to fight for the podium, his mission was derailed by a lack of front grip that got worse as the race progressed and a crash at the final corner on lap 13 saw Alex fall to the rear of the field, battling his way back upto a spirited 14th place though and securing two championship points.
The 2013 British Superbike Champion is now seventh in the overall standings with 76 points.
Round 5 of the WorldSBK Championship in Imola takes place on the 11-13th of May.