Finishing fourth in WorldSBK race one at Misano got Michael van der Mark the best possible start for race two, and he used his position to take first after holeshot man Xavi Fores’ bike broke down on him on lap two.
The Pata Yamaha man led from lap three to lap 18, before Jonathan Rea pounced. The Irishman was unsure if he could get past van der Mark but he did not have to think about it on the final lap when the Dutch rider ran a little wide and he snatched his chance with three to go.
Only 11th in Superpole 2 after having to come through from Superpole 1 first, VDM’s fourth in Saturday became almost another win on Sunday. VDM says this slow start to weekends sometimes is a point of focus for him and Yamaha.
“We need to make some more steps because we were getting stronger throughout the weekend, but we need to be a bit more strong from the start,” said VDM. “Then improve in some small areas. For sure it is possible to fight for second place (in the final points tally), but my focus is more on third place, which was the goal for during this season.”
Winning at Misano, where he had such a strong ride last year before a tyre issue intervened, was almost in VDM’s grasp. Sixteen laps is a long time to lead.
“You always want to win after leading for so many laps,” said VDM. “We know Johnny was really strong all weekend and I knew he would come back. I had a little bit more left at the end but the same for Johnny as he had the same pace as we had at the end. I must be happy with second place and I am most happy about the points we scored this weekend in the championship.”
VDM knew an attack from Rea was imminent – his senses told him. “I could hear him coming sometimes and he passed me in one of those places where he has always been really strong. So I knew he would come somewhere there, and I made a small mistake in he final turn and I did not have the drive out of the final corner. I was expecting him.”
Getting back in front of Rea was difficult as each of the riders had strong and weaker areas on track. But the same overall lap times.
“I had some areas where I was faster but I did not want to do anything crazy because Marco was coming really quick as well, stated Michael. “I did not want to make a big mistake for both of us. If I was really close I would have attacked him in the last lap. We were having the same pace so I could not attack anymore.”
VDM was almost a winner at Misano in 2017, before a sudden tyre deflation and fast crash. It suits him and his race bike. “For sure this is a track for the R1, and also I really like it, so it is a nice combination. Especially because of the fast corners and the longer corners where we are quite good. We have to improve, and we are improving, in the short and tight corners. Tracks like PI are even more an R1 track but the bike is improving in the areas where we struggled.”
With new and wider front tyres for all at Misano, VDM found them easy to adapt to and his bike was also unfazed by the move.