WorldSBK San Juan: ‘Relaxed’ van der Mark hits top six

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Easily missed beneath the noise and fury of the championship fight and the podium battles that went on at Villicum is the fact that Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad) secured three top six finishes (sixth-fifth-sixth) and is also sixth in the championship standings overall.

After a race win in the wet at Portimao, and podiums from the (missing in Argentina) Tom Sykes as well as VDM this season, three strong dry weather performances can only be seen as more incremental improvements.

“Yes, it’s been a good weekend,” van der Mark said on Sunday in Argentina. “I must say, Friday we struggled a lot so I wasn’t really sure what we could do, but we made a big improvement on Saturday morning.

“Yesterday, I was more relaxed. Then today in the warm-up we tried to change the bike a little bit, but the pace was all right but just not the feeling. The temperatures were quite low this morning, so at the end we went back to yesterday’s setup and did a really good Superpole race. Faster than yesterday. Left it all in race two.”

Part of the reason a rider like VDM is not fighting for dry weather podiums consistently yet is simply what any manufacturer with a still developing bike - BMW and Honda this season - is up against, 10 other bikes that are podium capable every weekend, if the set-up is spot-on.

“I think if you look at the competition, it’s one of the strongest it’s been in a while,” the Dutchman explained. “Maybe not at the front, but from third place on there’s a lot of bikes and different riders doing a really good job and being really close.

“Also the M1000RR, to be able to fight with them, I think it’s very positive. Of course, if you’re a rider you want to make steps, you want to finish on the podium. Sometimes you have to look at the reality. I think we are not doing a really bad job.”

The flyaway round in Argentina was a big step forward for SBK In general, and the next one in Indonesia is a special one for van der Mark in many ways.

“It’s nice to see the fans back here in San Juan, and especially there’s some action,” he said.

“There’s a lot of fans that are really friendly, really nice. Looking forward to Indonesia. A lot of people know my grandmother is from Indonesia, so it’s a bit of a second home race.

“It’s just fantastic to see the fans there. They love motorsports in Asia, so I cannot wait. I saw some videos of the circuit and it looks fantastic. It’s fast and flowing. It’s something I like. I cannot wait to go out and to enjoy the new track.”