After two wins at Donington, when his bike was working just right, the two differing track conditions between race one and race two at Brno contributed to Michael van der Mark being fourth in race one, and then second in race two.
In the second, held in hot and very slippery track conditions, the Pata Yamaha rider led for one lap, until Lowes came through and stayed there for the rest of the race. That was unexpected for VDM, who has been faster in the later sectors of races that Lowes recently.
“Normally I am stronger than Alex at the end but I knew with this front tyre that I chose that this could happen at the end,” said VDM. “We spoke about it. I was happy that I changed the front tyre because on Saturday I had such a bad feeling and no confidence. Today it took me some laps before I got my confidence – and Alex was just a little bit stronger today.”
The second race surface conditions were hot, but mostly just slippery despite the dry weather. It made the pace relatively slow, but racing being all relative, the Yamaha guys handled it best.
“Alex was leading and I was behind, and I felt so incredibly slow,” he said. “But we were still faster than the third guy, so the track was really slippery. We both had the feeling that every time the front and rear, they were never line, always moving and this made it really hard to do it for 18 laps.”
There were also fewer of Yamaha’s usual top rivals around than usual, even if Melandri went past VDM early on, only to run on and lose his advantage. “Marco made a mistake and I do not know what happened, but to be honest I was surprised at the others, and we were pulling away from third place. I was expecting Johnny or somebody to catch us really quick. It was a bit strange but we were a bit lucky today.”
After a breakthrough win some riders just click and their mentality changes. Not quite so for VDM, even if he was so close to a race two win.
“I want to win every weekend and today starting from pole position is always a small advantage,” he said, “but Marco caught us pretty quick. I knew we did not have the pace like all the other bikes. So I tried to win, but in my opinion, a podium was possible. When I got behind Alex I caught up and I thought, ‘OK, maybe I can win again.’ I tried, but I also kept the championship in mind.”
VDM is a clear third now after Sykes’ race two misfortune and no score.
The big question for VDM, Lowes and Yamaha now is that – after all this success of late – is their bike truly competitive now, and at all tracks?
“It is difficult to say,” pondered VDM. “Only the Kawasaki seems to work everywhere and in every moment of the day. It is difficult to say but at least our base is not as far away, like it was last year. So we have a base and it is working quite good everywhere. We can say that the bike has improved a lot but still we miss the last part.”
Yamaha has won three of the last four races, so is there a little change in the championship dynamic now?
“It is good, and it shows that we are still improving, making small steps,” said VDM. “We take the advantage when we can. We can only fight for the win in either strange conditions like today, or when everything is perfect, like in Donington. For sure we have to improve more and start to get the bike working at every temperature and in every condition.”