Honda Racing’s Dutch wunderkind Michael Van Der Mark scrapped his way to third place in the opening World Superbike race at Phillip Island despite struggling for front-end grip from half distance.
Van Der Mark was right in the mix for the 22-lapper in Australia and was not shy in putting some hard moves on established stars like Chaz Davies and former champion Tom Sykes but the fight for first was too big a risk, so he brought his Fireblade home just half a second in arrears..
“This morning we were consistently fast and I felt great on the bike. I had a really good start to the race, managed to stay with the guys and keep their pace quite easily. I was basically trying to save the rear tyre. It was such a nice fight with the (Ducati) guys and a really great race. I was quicker in some corners but they were better in other and this meant there were a lot of overtakes,” he said.
“At the end I wanted to push more but the grip at the front was just not quite there, not as much as I would have loved at least. I struggled a little bit but did my best to stay with Johnny and Chaz, while the gap with fourth position stayed the same and so I was able to bring home this podium finish. For tomorrow we need to improve just a little bit more and then we’ll see how it goes.