Fresh from their double podium during Race 2 at the last round in Thailand, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are looking to carry their form into Round 3 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship at Aragon, Spain this weekend. Alex Lowes is looking forward to the first European round of the season at a track he loves, with the British rider currently fifth overall in the championship standings after his fifth and third-place finishes in Thailand. His teammate Michael van der Mark highlighted the progress he and the team have made with a stunning ride to second during Race 2 in Buriram and the Dutch rider is hoping to add to his rostrum tally in Spain.
Lowes has enjoyed a strong start to the 2018 season and after securing fifth in Race 1 at the last round he recorded his first podium of 2018 – and his fifth for the Pata Yamaha team – in Race 2 at Buriram after fighting at the front and enjoying a superb battle with his teammate. The 27-year-old really likes the Aragon track and in 2017 he stormed to a superb fourth-placed finish from 12th on the grid in Race 1. Starting from pole in Race 2, he unfortunately ran off track and lost a lot of time before making an excellent comeback and charging through the field to cross the line in 13th. The 2013 British Superbike Champion is looking to build on his confidence and pace shown on his ° in Thailand as he hopes to, once again, be fighting for the podium. Lowes is currently fifth in the overall standings with 48 points after the first two rounds of 2018, 21-points behind championship leader Jonathan Rea.
After a strong ride to seventh during Race 1 in Thailand, van der Mark pulled off a sensational ride in Race 2 at the Chang International Circuit, leading for the first third of the race while battling with Lowes at the front. He went on to record his maiden podium of the season – and third for the Pata Yamaha team – after crossing the line in second, just 2.185s behind the race winner. The 25-year-old recorded two fifth-place finishes at Aragon in 2017 and is hoping to build on his early season pace on his Pata Yamaha R1 at the first European round of the season. The 2014 WorldSSP Champion is currently sixth in the championship standings with 45 points, just three behind his teammate Lowes, and is aiming to return to the podium in Spain
Situated just a stone’s throw from the historic street-racing area of Alcañiz and just 100km from the region’s capital of Zaragoza, Motorland Aragon is a favourite destination for fans and riders alike. Opened in 2009, the Herman Tilke designed circuit has multiple configurations, with WorldSBK running the 5,077km layout that contains a challenging 17 corners to master. Made up of a mix of long straights, high-speed flowing sections combined with some slower technical areas like Turns 8 & 9 – the reverse corkscrew – with a number of different lines, the Aragon circuit is known for producing stunning racing. This will be the eighth consecutive year the track has hosted a WorldSBK race after it was introduced to the calendar in 2011.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will take to the track on Friday morning at 9:45 am local time (CEST) for Free Practice 1, with Saturday’s qualifying starting at 10:30 am ahead of Race 1 at 1:00 pm, while Sunday’s Race 2 is also scheduled for 1:00 pm.
Alex Lowes: “It’s always nice to get the European season started and now the races come more frequently, which I enjoy. I feel like I have had a solid start to 2018 but, honestly, I have been missing some confidence and that last bit of feeling I need to ride at my best. Aragon is a track I really enjoy! It’s a long circuit with a variety of corners that contain some slower sections that are quite technical and also some faster corners, which really suit me. I honestly can’t wait to get there, work hard with the guys through the practice sessions and fight for more podiums during the races!”
Michael van der Mark: “After the first two overseas races of the year, the European season finally starts this weekend in Aragon! We have had some encouraging results in the first two races and this year it seems like the competition is a lot closer than before, and with the progress we have made, I am looking forward to what Aragon will bring. Hopefully, we can carry our momentum to Aragon and, once again, be challenging for the podium!”
Photo Credit: Yamaha Racing