Michael van der Mark

The Suzuka 8 Hour Yamaha R1 and the art of compromise: speed vs stamina over 220 laps

The day is done and the battle is won. Yamaha claimed their third consecutive Suzuka 8 Hours on Sunday. The victory put a stamp on their dominance of the one race each year that the Japanese manufacturers place more emphasis on than any other. We take a look at the Yamaha Factory Racing Team's YZF-R1.

It's often said that endurance racing is the last bastion of design and technological freedom in motor sport. Whether it was Audi's decision to use a diesel engine on four wheels or the current breed of two-wheeled endurance bike, it's clear that there is plenty of innovation on the grid.

At this weekend's Suzuka 8 Hours, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team fielded arguably the most advanced YZF-R1 on the planet. With open regulations for electronics, a tire war and plenty of scope for innovation in the rulebook, the machine raced by Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark is very different to their regular WorldSBK mount.

Back to top

Suzuka 8 Hours Interview: Michael van der Mark on winning for the third time in Japan

Michael van der Mark joined illustrious company by claiming a third Suzuka 8 Hours success

Michael van der Mark left Japan with a smile on his face, another victory and a reflective mood. The Suzuka 8 Hours winner knows how difficult it is to win the biggest single race of the year - he's done it three times.

There was a time when Suzuka was considered a hindrance on the racing calendar and it had lost its luster, but with 80,000 fans packing the grandstands this year it was clear that the revival of the race, which began in 2015, has returned it to prominence. For the victor it was a special day, not only because of the win but also because he remembers the heartbreak of losing there for the last two years.

“This race is such a big event that it takes a long time for the result to sink in,” said Van der Mark. “It's been a few years since I won and it's great to be back on the top step of the podium. I've been so lucky to win this race three times now and it's amazing. This race can give you such a good feeling, but I think that it's only when you win that you really feel that.

Back to top

Suzuka 8 Hours Race Round Up: Triple top for Yamaha as they sweep to Suzuka success

Smooth day at Suzuka for Yamaha as they wrap up a third consecutive 8 Hours success

Vince Lombardi once said that he “firmly believes that any man's finest hour is that moment when he has worked his heart out for a good cause and he lies exhausted on the field of battle. Victorious.”

The day is done, the battle is won, and for a third consecutive year Yamaha lifted the Suzuka 8 Hours trophy. It was a dominant performance by the Number 21 crew, and in the aftermath they sat and enjoyed their success. They weren't exhausted, but for Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark, and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, this was the final moment of their 2017 Suzuka.

Sitting in their paddock office the trio of riders were relaxed but the emotions of the day were starting to take hold. For Van der Mark it was the realization that for a third time he had stood on the top step of the podium. It was a case of “job done” for Lowes, whose trio of stints were a superb display of speed, consistency, and maturity. Nakasuga joins Van der Mark as a three-time winner, and his status as the King of Suzuka is retained. Indeed, it was his opening stint that laid the foundations of their success.

Back to top

Pirelli To Bring Stiffer Rear Tire To Laguna Seca To Stem Tire Issues

The Misano round of WorldSBK was dominated by talk of tires. As such, following a weekend fraught with failures, Pirelli will revert to an older specification of tire for the Laguna Seca round. The move sees Pirelli at a crossroads, after a series of high profile incidents during the scorching weekend in Italy.

This includes Michael van der Mark's crash from the lead of Saturday's race, after a tire failure saw the Dutch rider robbed of his chance to claim his first podium for Yamaha. One has to remember too, Jonathan Rea also crashed out of the lead at the previous round in Donington Park, as it was a shock to see the previously robust Pirelli fail once again.

"Johnny was using the V0602 tire, which is a development SC0, but Van der Mark was a standard SC0 tire," said Pirelli's Communication Manager, Matteo Giusti.

"The standard has been available for more than one year and has been used many times. They were two different tires and two different problems with different damage to them.Johnny had a tear in his tire that was about 10cm along the side of the tire whereas Michael had a small hole in the surface. With Mickey's tire you can put your finger through the tire but we are not sure what happened to cause this on the tire."

Pirelli separates its tires by their family of compound. In the case of the tires that suffered the issues, they were the SC0 compound. Within those tires, things get divided further, as there are 'standard' and 'development' tires within the family.

Back to top

Pirelli On Van der Mark's Tire: "We Have Not Had This Issue Before"

Michael van der Mark suffered a rear tire failures during the closing stages of Race 1 of the Misano WorldSBK round. The Dutch rider was leading the race at the time and had a firm chance to claim a first career victory in the class when his rear tire suddenly failed and pitched him off the bike through the series of fast right handers at the end of the lap.

For Pirelli it is the second round in a row where they have seen a tire failure affect the outcome of a race after Jonathan Rea suffered the same fate at Donington Park. Three weeks ago Rea was using a development SC0 compound tire when he suffered an instantaneous drop in pressure after the tire came off the rim and caused him to crash at the Old Hairpin. In Rea's case the damage was different to Van der Mark's as explained by Pirelli's Communication Manager, Matteo Giusti:

Back to top

WorldSBK Analysis: The Contrasting Fortunes Of Yamaha And Honda

While it has hardly been surprising to see Ducati and Kawasaki maintain their position as the dominant forces at play in WorldSBK the battle for best of the rest has been an interesting subplot for 2017.

Over the course of the opening three rounds of the campaign the form of Honda and Yamaha has been marked by their stark contrast in fortunes. Last year, Honda had been a podium and front row regular as the season moved into the European swing, and Yamaha looked to be clutching at straws in looking for any positives they could find on their return to the series.

This year has seen their roles reversed, with Yamaha consistently the best of the rest and in position to fight for a rostrum finish. Honda on the other hand have had a disastrous start to the campaign with an all-new Fireblade.

Back to top

Alex Lowes And Michael van der Mark On The Jerez WorldSBK Test

After their return to WorldSBK in 2016 Yamaha did not shy away from admitting that there is plenty of work to be done to turn the YZF-R1 into a front runner. That work was certainly being undertaken at this week's Jerez test with Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes the busiest riders on track over the two days.

The pair completed a total of 283 laps of the Spanish circuit and with a host of new parts on the bikes it's clear that the bike should be more competitive in 2017. Lowes trialled a new underslung swing arm and while the Englishman commented that it didn't offer an immediate lap time improvement it did offer greater consistency over a race distance. For Van der Mark the improvements came with setup changes that improved his feeling on turn in.

Back to top

Launch Season Approaching - Yamaha, Ducati This Week, WorldSBK Teams In Two Weeks Time

With the first tests of 2017 fast approaching - track action gets underway next week, with the WorldSBK teams testing at Jerez, followed by MotoGP the week after - teams are presenting their new liveries, new sponsors and new teams for 2017.

This week sees two MotoGP factory teams unveil their new liveries and their new bikes for the 2017 season. The Movistar Yamaha team kick off proceedings on Thursday, 19th January, with the presentation of the 2017 Yamaha YZR-M1, with Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales as their riders. The following day, Friday, 20th January, Ducati follow suit, presenting Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso. Both events will be streamed live, for fans all over the world to see.

Back to top

Pages

Subscribe to Michael van der Mark