With a gaggle of Yamahas all crushed together behind the leading duo of Rea and Bautista on day one of WorldSBK in Thailand, Michael van der Mark was fifth quickest.
This partly shows how adept the R1 must be at lapping the Buriram track, but also with all of the Yamahas so close together, maybe that there is a kind of ceiling, a limit, on he R1’s current performance in WorldSBK?
“For sure at this track the bike behaves really well, but also we see everyone together, not one faster or one slower, which shows that it can be the limit of the bike,” said VDM.
“To be honest Alex and I always knew, last year, we were quite close together – so we knew we were getting everything out of the bike. Anyway, it was really good to have so many Yamahas from P3 onwards, so I was quite happy with today.
“I am not really happy with the bike but even though I am not happy the pace I had was really good. To be honest the only place we lose in is sector one, which is only one corner and a long straight. I do not want to complain… but that is where we lose most.”
The tall Dutchman was not shocked that independent championship Yamaha rider Cortese was third quickest on day one, in only his second WorldSBK meeting. “Why? He is a good rider,” said VDM. “He is fast, and he is good at following people. But in the end he is not far away.
“It is good for him because it gives him confidence. To be honest everyone was really surprised when he jumped from a Supersport to a Superbike. Sure, you always want to be in front of everybody, but we are really close and it is really good for the championship as well.”
Cortese, like VDM was, is a WorldSSP champion who made the jump up to Superbikes after winning the middleweight crown. He sees similarities with Cortese now.
I was quick from the start but always in races it is a bit harder. One lap you can do but long races are a bit more difficult. For sure he looks a bit like when I made the jump.”
VDM and possibly most of the field has a particular problem right now, a super-fast Ducati that is something of a modern day homologation special. It is about twice the price of his own Yamaha as a standard bike to boot.
“I am not going to complain about that,” said VDM. “They did something incredible within the rules and I think it is for other manufacturers to react to this. Ducati is a different company compared to other Japanese brands. Their mindset for the championship is a lot different.
“Yamaha focus on selling a bike, a normal good bike, and Ducati builds a bike to win the championship. So the mindset is different. To be honest I do not mind if Yamaha comes with a special one, and I think when it is as fast as that bike, people will buy it anyway.
“The market for a special bike… I know how many V4s they sold, it is incredible, but it is a different kind of person who buys it. But still, it is a lot of cost beforehand.”