This weekend saw the PATA Yamaha team head to Donington Park, the home round of the Hampshire-based Muc-Off and Yamaha team itself.
The race weekend started as a wet one, a rain-soaked track met riders on Friday practice. Which, with dry running expected for the remainder of the weekend caused Friday to be a washout, in more ways than one! A solid Superpole qualification saw Alex Lowes start 5th and Michael start 6th.
The Kawasaki of Rea grabbed the holeshot at the start ahead of poleman Tom Sykes, while the Yamaha duo of Alex Lowes and van der Mark followed close behind getting excellent starts.
Van der Mark scythed past Lowes into 3rd at the Fogarty Esses on the opening lap to lead the chase on the Kawasaki duo, who traded places with each other over the next few laps.
A mistake by Rea at the Melbourne Loop while trying to pass Sykes on lap seven dropped him behind van der Mark. Michael proceeded to close down Sykes and pass him into the Melbourne Loop on lap 15, opening up a gap of over a second as the KRT duo fought hard for second spot.
Rea got the better of Sykes on lap 17 and managed to get the gap down to within half a second of van der Mark over the final few laps. Rea’s efforts were too late, however, and Michael van der Mark was able to cross the line comfortably to become the first Dutch winner in WSBK. Sykes ended up third, with Lowes coming home in fourth to secure pole for Sunday's race(2).
A thrilling Race 2 saw Michael van der Mark completed the World Superbike double in style for the Pata Yamaha outfit. After van der Mark’s breakthrough victory on Saturday, the Dutch rider produced a measured charge through the pack to take a dramatic double victory.
While Pata Yamaha teammate Alex Lowes led from pole position for the opening laps, the race came to life in the final third as Rea tussled for the lead against his fellow countryman.
Rea dived up the inside of Lowes at Goddard's dart to the front at the end of lap 17 which disrupted his rival's momentum to see van der Mark sneak into second place one corner later past his Pata Yamaha teammate.
While Rea looked to sprint clear at the front it brought van der Mark along with him and the Dutch rider made an opportunistic move up the inside at the Melbourne Loop on lap 18. The Pata Yamaha rider produced his own late race blast to pull out a lead over the final three laps. Lowes fading late on to finish in fourth place.
Having collected a handful of podiums with Pata Yamaha earlier in the season, Michael ’s dominant double victory at Donington Park. His on tracks performances not only promoted him to the top step of the podium both times over the weekend but also moved him up to third place in the riders’ overall standings, a reward for Pata Yamaha’s renewed efforts in the series.
“It has been an incredible weekend starting from Saturday with the first victory, which I was so happy with and I couldn’t dream of doing the double,” Michael said. “I don’t know how we did it starting from ninth on the grid and in the first couple of corners it was a bit crazy with some riders doing strange things.”
He continued “I stayed calm and worked my way to the front and followed Alex [Lowes] for a long time before Jonny passed me but in the end, I managed to get back past him and pull away, similar to race one”.
This result is Yamaha's first double race win since Cal Crutchlow did the double at Silverstone back in 2010, while it marks the first-ever wins by a rider from the Netherlands in the series.
Next stop Brno.