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Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) took his debut win in style around Brno
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) took his first ever MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race win at the Acerbis Czech Round, in an astonishing Race two which saw championship leader Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) crash out early on. The thousands of Czech fans present at the Automotodrom Brno witnessed a wild, unpredictable affair, ending in a Yamaha one two and a sixth race winner in 2018.
The front row all kept their positions at the start, with van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) holding off his teammate through the first corners. Lowes would make his move into the race lead the following lap however, gaining the inside line through the first corner. Meanwhile, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) climbed all the way from eighth on the grid to third by lap two, and past van der Mark a few corners later.
The next couple of laps saw three dramatic, almost unbelievable twists. First, championship leader Jonathan Rea went down at turn 12, apparently after coming in contact with teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The Northern Irish rider couldn’t make it back on track, retiring for the first time this season. If yesterday his lead seemed almost unsurmountable, after Sunday there was more than a glimmer of hope.
Next, Marco Melandri, having just passed Lowes for the race lead, lost control of his Ducati and rode through the gravel, immediately dropping the Italian to the back of the field and denying Melandri a return to the top of the rostrum when he was the fastest man on track. And then Sykes slipped in lap 6, leaving all of yesterday’s podium men off the rostrum in Race two. In four seasons together, never had both British KRT riders left a race empty-handed. Melandri was able to salvage a point, putting him in 15th.
With a dozen laps left, the stage was thus set for a Yamaha battle to the end, as Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), in third, was unable to match the pair’s pace. But this time, unlike when he led at Donington, Lowes’ YZF-R1 did not drop off in the final third: a smart, consistent and overall flawless ride by the Brit kept him ahead of his Dutch teammate all the way to the checkered flag with two seconds to spare. The man from Lincolnshire made his debut at Brno in 2011 – seven years on, he can finally call himself a WorldSBK winner.
With van der Mark claiming another podium finish in second, the Dutchman moves into third in the championship standings, above Sykes; while for Davies, who took an excellent third at Brno considering the issues that have plagued his weekend on the Panigale, cut Rea’s lead to 65 points.
Behind the rostrum riders, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) took fourth, his best result of the season, with his teammate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) also a season-best in fifth. Brno welcomed more good results for the Italian manufacturer, adding their bikes to the long list of podium contenders this season.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) had a career-best of sixth at Brno, rising from eleventh on the grid in just his tenth WorldSBK race. He finishes above Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), in seventh. Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) returned to the top-ten in eighth, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in ninth, and Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) tenth.
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P1 – Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
“It’s amazing, I don’t want to talk too much because I’ll get upset. But honestly, its fantastic, thank you to the team and hopefully we can get a few more now!”
P2 – Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
“I’m really happy with this result, I changed the front tyre compared to yesterday and Alex was so fast. I knew he had a really good pace so I tried to catch him and stay calm but in the end he was stronger, but anyway I am really happy with this podium, Alex’s first win is something he deserves and its a really great day for the Yamaha team.”
P3 – Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
“Its been such a tough weekend, probably one of the most difficult weekends that I’ve endured as a Ducati rider in recent memory, after some harsh words last night we regrouped and came back with a bike that was able to fight for the podium. I think we got a little bit lucky today but we made a step forward and that was important and it’s fantastic. Thanks to everybody involved because it’s been a really tough weekend.”
Davies third in Race 2 at Brno with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team, Melandri finishes in 15th position
After Marco Melandri’s second place in Race 1, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team took another the podium in Race 2 at Brno (Czech Republic) with Chaz Davies, who finished third. The Welshman made a clear step forward since yesterday getting off to a strong start from second row, and quickly pulled away from the second group to defend his position until the checkered flag.
Melandri, on the other hand, suffered an unlucky fate after a blistering start from third row that quickly saw him take the lead with a series of spectacular passes before being forced to go wide due to a rear-brake-lever issue. Once he rejoined the race, the Italian climbed back to 15th position, also taking the fastest lap with a 2:00.176.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi, on track with the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team, took home his best WorldSBK result so far in sixth position. After seven rounds, Davies (205 points) and Melandri (157 points) are respectively second and fifth in the championship, while Rinaldi (54 points) is 14th. The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will return to the track at Laguna Seca (United States) for the eighth round of the WorldSBK Championship, scheduled for June 22-24, while the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team will resume action the following round at Misano (Italy).
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 3rd
“We finally made a step forward after a difficult couple of days, where we struggled with the setup and low grip levels. Despite still not having the best feeling, it was enough to put me in a position to hold my own and not drop off in the end of the race. We want to do better, but I’m really happy to be back on the podium. It’s important for the morale of the team, and we’ll keep plugging away without giving up. This is my ‘thank you’ to my crew, who worked so hard. We recovered some points on our rivals but the priority is to get the feeling back 100 percent and hopefully we’ll take it to the next level soon.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) – 15th
“Looking at our pace today, it would have been enough to get the win, so to finish in 15th position is disappointing. We had a lot of bad luck, because I was feeling good and once I was in the lead I was trying to push harder to pull away, but the rear-brake foot lever broke and I was forced to go wide at turn 3. Still, I wanted to finish the race to collect important information ahead of Laguna Seca. Looking at the bright side, we regained our confidence after improving the bike’s stability so I’m looking forward to the next round, where we can surely fight for good results.”
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team #21) – 6th
“This is a great way to finish what’s been a tough weekend, with my best result of the year so far. Yesterday we were fast but I crashed, and today in WUP we’ve made another step forward. The race was fun, but in the final laps I was struggling with the tires because it was hotter than yesterday, and after the crash I thought P6 was OK. Now we will skip Laguna Seca, but I’ll cheer for Ducati and I can’t wait to go to Misano for my home race.”
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
“Today’s race leaves us only halfway happy. Chaz managed to improve his feeling with the bike compared with yesterday and rode a solid race to step back on the podium, while Marco missed a probable win due to bad luck. We’ll do our best to allow both of them to show their full potential at Laguna Seca.”
Pata Yamaha Official WSBK Team’s Alex Lowes wrapped up a challenging MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship round in Brno today by winning style! The young Brit dominated the second Superbike race from pole to chequered flag to score his maiden WSBK race win and his first for the Pata Yamaha team. Teammate Michael van der Mark added the finishing touches to the perfect race day, bringing his YZF-R1 home in 2nd position to make it a Yamaha 1-2 – the first 1-2 finish for the team and for the new generation R1.
A fifth place in yesterday’s first Superbike race of the weekend with very low grip conditions and a hotter than expected track, put the hard working Pata Yamaha rider Lowes on pole position for today’s second race. Taking all the experience and data from yesterday, the team were able to step up a level and deliver a race bike that proved unbeatable in the right hands. Lowes took the holeshot into turn one at the front of the pack, and only briefly allowed teammate van der Mark past for a few corners as he settled into his rhythm. As the second lap unfolded he was immediately back in front, and working hard towards keeping his YZF-R1 ahead. Marco Melandri briefly took the lead with 14 laps to go, but quickly made an error, running off and leaving Lowes to strike ahead.
Back in second, van der Mark was able to keep him close but the race was the British rider’s to lose. A faultless race pace followed, Lowes maintaining and finally growing the gap to van der Mark behind to just over two seconds at the finish line. The perfect performance delivers Lowes his maiden WSBK victory, and Yamaha’s third victory in the last four races.
Teammate van der Mark had also picked up his pace from yesterday’s challenging conditions and looked comfortable taking off from second on the grid today. The young Dutchman was unfazed by the greasy surface, calmly moving back into second after Melandri ran off the track ahead of him and race leader Lowes. Clearly benefiting from the race winning confidence of the last round, van der Mark was able to keep within 2s of his teammate to the finish line, leaving the pack behind to secure a memorable Yamaha 1-2 on the podium.
The race results bring van der Mark up to third in the championship standings on 196 points, 17 ahead of Tom Sykes in fourth and just nine behind Chaz Davies in second. Lowes’ race win brings him up to 154 points and places him in sixth in the standings, just three points behind Melandri in fifth.
“The first thing I need to say is a massive thanks to Yamaha, to the team and especially Paul who believed in me and brought me here from BSB. All the guys worked so hard to give me what I wanted on the bike. For me to win and Michael to come second for a Yamaha 1-2 is fantastic. On a personal level I’m so happy, Donington was hard to take, not to take anything away from Michael but it was tough for me to accept as I wanted to be the one to get the first win for the team as I felt like I’ve put so much into the project. The bike worked really well for me today, I really enjoyed the race, which is not easy when it’s so hot and slippery! I focused on being as smooth and consistent as I could be and now I’m over the moon. A massive thank you to Yamaha, I feel honoured to be part of this project and now we need to keep trying to win more races!”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“This morning in warm up we tried to change something on the bike to get a better feeling with the front and in the end it didn’t feel as good so we went back to yesterday’s setting. We only changed the front tyre and at the beginning of the race I struggled to get a good feeling with it. Alex passed me, Marco passed me; then he made a mistake. I was following Alex, he had such a good pace and we managed to pull away from third place so I was happy about that. I tried to close in on him and fight to win, I made it but in the last few laps he was stronger. I’m really happy with this podium and really happy for Alex for his first win. I think it’s a great end for the whole Pata Yamaha Superbike Team.”
“What a day for everybody involved in the Pata Yamaha World Superbike project and of course in particular for Alex. To see Michael win at Alex’s home event two weeks ago and be so gracious and supportive of the team’s effort was appreciated by us all, but to come here to Brno have a relatively difficult first race and react as strongly as he did today to withstand all of Michael’s pressure and pull away towards the end was simply outstanding. Congratulations to Alex, to his crew and all the engineers involved. Of course a huge “well done” also to Michael for another super-strong performance and the maturity and intelligence to understand that 20 points was a better result than a potential crash on such a low grip surface.. Another weekend of firsts for the team, Alex’s first win, the team’s first 1-2 and a good step forward in the standings for both riders.”