The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK and GRT
Yamaha Supported WorldSBK riders enjoyed a strong opening day at Round 2 of the
FIM Superbike World Championship in Thailand, with all four riders finishing
inside the top six. It was Sandro Cortese who led the way, with a late run in
this afternoon’s second free practice session securing the German third place
on the timesheet. Close behind in fourth place was Alex Lowes, with his Pata
Yamaha teammate Michael van der Mark in fifth and GRT Yamaha’s Marco Melandri
in sixth. The four Yamaha riders were separated by just two-tenths of a second.

It was van der Mark who made the
early running in this morning’s opening free practice, which was run in
sweltering conditions at the 4.554km Chang International Circuit. The Dutchman
was immediately on the pace and continued to improve his lap time throughout the
session to end third on the timesheet, one place and one tenth ahead of
Melandri. Lowes and Cortese enjoyed a steadier start in the first session,
finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

In the second and final free
practice of the day, with the track temperature peaking at an incredible 56
degrees Centigrade, it was Lowes who initially led the Yamaha charge in third
place on the timesheet. However, a fast lap of 1’33. 465 from Cortese right at
the end of the session saw the WorldSBK rookie jump up the order to third,
pushing Lowes back to fourth.

Van der Mark continued to refine the
set-up of his Yamaha YZF-R1 during FP2 this afternoon and was rewarded with an
improvement in his lap time compared to FP1. A time of 1’33.562 was enough to
see him finish the day fifth, one place ahead of Melandri, who secured sixth
place on the timesheet with a time of ‘1.33.624.

The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK and GRT
Yamaha Supported WorldSBK riders will return to action in FP3 at 11.00 local
time tomorrow, before lights out for Race 1 at 16.00 local time.

Alex Lowes
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P4 – 1’33.550
“It was a solid start for us
today here in Thailand. This track is a little bit less technical than a lot of
tracks that we race at the lap times are always really close, as you can see
from the fact that the four Yamaha riders are all close together on the
timesheet. I was quite happy with today, I managed to string together a lot of
laps at a very consistent pace but we do still need to find some more small
improvements, especially mid-corner to exit, where I feel like I’m running out
of track a little bit. That’s what I’ll be focussing on tonight and, hopefully,
tomorrow we’ll see some improvement in this area.”

Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P5 – 1’33.562
“This is a track I enjoy riding
and I always seem to go well here. This morning I felt good from the start,
with just a few small changes to the bike enough to see me finish the session
in third place. I was happy with that. This afternoon we tried a few more
changes to try and improve the turning and increase the amount of rear grip
available, with mixed results initially. However, we made some small
improvements towards the end of the session and I was able to improve my lap
time on my final run. The pace is there, as is the consistency, so I’m
satisfied with where we are right now, but I’m missing a bit the feeling with
the front still, so that’s something we need to look at tomorrow. If we can put
everything together then we’ll be in a strong position for the first
race.”

Sandro Cortese
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P3 – 1’33.465
“Today was a very positive one
for me and the team. We started this morning with the set-up from Phillip
Island as the base and, of course, we had to make adjustments to suit the
characteristics of this track, with its heavy braking zones. After FP1 we sat
down and started to work in the right direction ahead of FP2. Of course I’m
happy to finish P3 today, but I’m also realistic and keeping my feet on the
ground, because the race is tomorrow. We need to keep calm and keep working. If
we can do this then the results will come, of that I’m sure. A big thanks to
Yamaha and the team for their incredible support, as this is also a big
motivation for me.”

Marco Melandri
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P6 – 1’33.624
“I’m a little bit concerned at
the moment, as I’m experiencing the same issues that I had here last year. The
bike is very unstable on the straight and I can’t understand why. On a new tyre
the first lap is good, but then on the second the stability problem appears and
then gets worse with each further lap. Maybe it’s a combination of my size and
weight together with the casing of the tyre causing the issue, but I don’t
really know. It’s strange that I should have the same problem on two completely
different bikes though. We will sit down tonight and go through the data to see
if we can find a solution for tomorrow.”

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