The WorldSBK season returned from its summer break to the sun-kissed coastline of Portugal, Portimão the venue for round 10 of the championship. The PATA Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team quickly carried on its form from earlier in the season with rider Michael van der Mark off to a flying start, a superb third place finish in Race 1 at Portimão picking up valuable championship points to help him contest 2nd position in the championship.
Michael Van der Mark set himself up for today's podium finish with a strong performance in qualifying, which the 25-year-old Dutch rider finished just 0.2s off pole position to secure fifth place for race 1. The track temperature had risen significantly by the time the riders lined up on the grid, the result, rear grip became increasingly difficult to find. However, van der Mark was able to maintain a fast and consistent pace in fourth place during the first half of the race, before being elevated to third when Lorenzo Savadori crashed in front of him at half race distance.
Michael Van der Mark remains third in the championship standings with 264 points, but with the race 1 podium finish as closed the gap to second-placed Chaz Davies to just 27 points, with Michael’s 2018 aim to finish in 2nd place.
Having finished third in World Superbike Race 1, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team rider Michael van der Mark buoyed by the race 1result went one step better in race 2, with a fantastic ride to second place after battling at the front of the field in Race 2 at Portimão.
Starting seventh on the grid following his third place yesterday, van der Mark started quickly, pushing towards the front on the third of 20 laps. The 25-year-old eventually forced his way through to fourth, and then closed in on the leading podium group by mid-race distance.
With eight laps to go van der Mark took advantage of an attack by Marco Melandri on Chaz Davies, which caused both to run wide and made the all-important pass on both on the inside of turn one. The Pata Yamaha rider then made a concerted effort to chase down championship and race leader Jonathan Rea, narrowing the gap to less than half a second. Van der Mark took the chequered flag in second place to secure his ninth podium finish of the season and maintains third in the championship standings with 284 points, but now just 20 points behind second-placed Davies with six races remaining.
The team bolstered by recent results and the rapid return to the podium following the summer break is full of confidence, looking to go one step better next time out in Magny Cours!