Phillip Island WorldSBK test: Race distance the focus for van der Mark

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Seventh fastest and the third quickest Yamaha rider was maybe not where Michael van der Mark saw himself at the end of day one of WorldSBK testing at Phillip Island, but that is where he ended up.

The Dutchman was still happy because he is working very much towards race weekend and race distance tyre life.

“It’s good, nice as always. This morning we went out, felt quite good on the bike straight away, had good speed and I really enjoyed the riding,” VDM told

“Our main focus is for race distance. This afternoon we wanted to try some small things on the bike but were a bit unlucky with the weather. In the end, I just did a long run.

“I’m quite happy with the long run; the pace was quite good, consistent and I didn’t have any problems with the rear tyre at the end. It gives us some good information for the weekend.”

Improved traction using the latest Öhlins material characterised VDM’s first day at the final official tests of the pre-season.

We already tested last year some new stuff with Öhlins. I feel, especially on this track, the bike is going more forward – instead of sideways – out of the corners. It’s the first thing I noticed, straight away. I have been riding all day alone so I cannot really compare with others.”

Although VDM and his team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu have the same parts and machines, their set-up ideas are very different. “My setup is completely different said VDM. “Everything we have on the bikes is the same but the setups are different. Everything is the same in terms of materials, just setup is different.”

VDM hopes for close racing in 2020, and a closer championship, but is wary of saying that the current formbook will continue all season long. But with all five manufacturers featuring one rider in the top six on day one at least, VDM hopes for more variety and battling in 2020.

“I hope the field will be closer this year. I really hope it will stay like it has been today, but it’s typical Phillip Island…even after tomorrow, which is just another day of testing. This weekend, everybody will be really close.

“After a few weekends we will really see who is a lot stronger this year than previous years. To be honest, I really hope it is like this because this is what the championship needs.”

Van der Mark has new bike in 2020, not all new but with many more small advances for racing. And they seem to be working, as he agreed that he can feel a difference at this track too.

“Yes, for sure. We didn’t make massive steps, the bike isn’t completely new, but everything that is new is helping us. We keep making progress and I’m pretty sure we are stronger than before.

“The test tracks at Jerez, Portimao and Phillip Island, are all different kinds of track. We tried something in Portimao which didn’t really work there but it can work here because this track is really flat, so that’s why it’s good to test stuff here as well.”