Dutch WorldSBK star Michael van der Mark was an enthusiastic user of Pirelli’s new and bigger section rear tyre on his Pata Yamaha from the beginning of the Phillip Island tests.
“I started using the big tyre since the first day at PI tests, and it feels good,” said a rider now more than keen to win his first WorldSBK race. “So I am quite happy with it. I did not do a long run with it but I did many laps and it was still OK. So I think we need to do a long run now. The only change we made on the big tyre is that because it is higher we dropped the bike a little to see, and it felt good from the start. It is a real positive for us.”
For race weekend, now screaming closer with every minute that passes, van der Mark thinks tyres will be all-important – as they have been in the past at the very left-handed Phillip Island circuit. “At this track everybody can be really fast, but mainly in Phillip Island it is about the race distance.
“This year now we are quite OK with that. With all the new rules, in my opinion, we have to see how everyone races. In PI if you feel good on the bike, if your bike is a little bit less, you can still race hard. At the moment it is really close but we have to wait and see. It always is in PI. In the race, nobody is pushing hard for the first half or three quarters just to save the tyres. It is a bit difficult. After the tests with such similar tracks (in Europe), to arrive here in such a different track, is always good.”
After coming close to wins in the past in WorldSBK, VDM now knows what is required of him in ’18. “I think that our reality this year is that we have to fight for podiums every weekend, and then we need to win as well. And I want to take the first victory.”