Michael van der Mark expects to sign a 2019 WorldSBK deal soon but opinions are still split between the tall Dutchman staying at Yamaha or moving to Kawasaki.
He deflected the question of where he would go with a joke when asked what his plans really are – then went on to conform his decision will be made soon. “I spent nearly a week in Los Angeles and really enjoyed it – so I think MotoAmerica!” he said, before stating, “but, I think we are getting closer. I think we will confirm soon. I have not signed it yet but I think pretty soon you will see the news.”
A few weeks after it seemed that there would be blizzard of multiple rider line-up changes in WorldSBK, it appears to VDM and most in the paddock that maybe there will be a more limited number of rider swaps.
“It seems like that, and I think a few people were waiting for each other. Where to go, what the plan is, so yes I think there will be less changes but for sure there will be changes. But not as much as everybody expected.”
After a recent confirmation that VDM will be one of three riders in the official Suzuka Eight-Hours squad, he explained his intense upcoming test schedule.
“I will be doing the Suzuka Eight-Hours again and we have the first test straight after Laguna and the second one straight after Misano – and then we have the race,” he said. “This is the way they planned and we just do what we say.”
Asked the reality of how difficult it is to ride at Suzuka in the punishing Japanese summer weather conditions, VDM said, “The Eight-Hours is a nice event, and I enjoy it. When you do the stint, then you go out on bike on the track and see your pit board, saying ‘27 laps’ then you say to yourself, ‘what am I doing here?’ At the end it is a really nice event, and it is something special.
“I have been lucky to win it three times, and then you always want to come back. For me the hardest thing is when the other guys are on the bike and you are just waiting. Normally, you are nervous, you wake up, do the race and then you go home.
“There at the Eight-Hours, you wake up, you are nervous – normally I do the third stint – so I have to watch the start, and have to watch the second stint, so you are nervous for nearly a full day. And when you are not on the bike, you can’t do anything. Just wait and see what they do.”
VDM Is one of many in the WorldSBK paddock who would love to see the championship head back to a Japanese circuit, and cannot work out why there is not one already on the calendar.
“I dunno but I think it would be awesome,” he stated. “They have great tracks and I think not only for us, but also for the Japanese fans it is incredible. I love the Japanese people and for sure if we go, there will come a lot of people. A lot of people go Suzuka to see MotoGP riders, Superbike riders and a lot of Japanese fans come there to see us. I wish we would go there.”