Four on the bounce: Michael van der Mark has once again made it to the podium in Portugal – this time, from 10th on the grid! How did he do it?
Tissot Superpole may not have gone his way but Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was keen to make up positions in Race 1 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the Acerbis Portuguese Round. The 26-year-old Dutchman made it through the field like lightening, up to fifth from tenth on the Grid by the end of Lap 1, before going on to stand on the Portimao podium for the fourth time.
Off the line and van der Mark just about avoided carnage, as the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati teammates of Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista nearly clashed at Turn 1, forcing the Spaniard wide. Van der Mark then followed Davies through on the first lap and soon enough, he was in the top five. Keeping with Davies until the two were second and third, van der Mark passed the Welshman for a moment at the final corner, before a relentless Davies utilised the Ducati’s top speed advantage down the main straight immediately after.
Settling for third and 16 valuable WorldSBK points, van der Mark said: “It is really good to be back on the podium as this was our goal. To be honest, we struggled yesterday and this morning. The bike improved a bit in the Tissot Superpole session, but I got a little bit of traffic in the fastest laps and therefore lost one or two tenths.
Since becoming injured after a vicious highside at the end of FP2 at Misano in June, van der Mark hasn’t been able to stand on the podium. However, having had a successful test at Portimao in August, the former WorldSSP champion was back to the places where he knows he should be and took his fourth consecutive Portimao WorldSBK podium, a streak that extends back to 2017.
Continuing to review Race 1, the Jerez Race 2 winner said: “I got an OK start and was lucky in the first couple of corners! I passed the guys ahead of me really quickly and then I was with Chaz. We had the same sort of pace and I saw he was struggling a bit with the front, so I tried to stay with him. I struggled even more in the end so there’s a lot of work to do, but I am happy to be back on the podium!”
With this latest podium, van der Mark retakes third position from teammate Alex Lowes, a position he gained at Jerez but would later relinquish at Misano. A narrow gap of just two points splits the Yamaha duo going into Sunday, creating an intense fight for third overall in the standings, combined with a strong showing from Davies.
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