It’s not easy for a tall Dutchman with masses of riding talent to sneak under anybody’s radar but right up to his suddenly-presented Portimao WorldWSBK race one podium, Michael van der Mark and his Pata Yamaha had been just working away solidly in those fourth to top-tenth places.
Eventually lining up fifth in Superpole and then taking a third place that would probably have been fourth had Lorenzo Savadori not fallen from third, it was a welcome podium that gave him a few more points in his chase to overhaul Chaz Davies for second in the overall championship.
It was not an easy podium, or weekend for VDM, but it was a textbook example of getting the job done when it matters.
“All weekend we have been really consistent and only a few guys like Johnny or Marco were faster, but there were not a lot of guys who were really consistent all weekend,” said van der Mark, “That is why I felt quite confident for the race.
“Also, today in Superpole I felt really good! Maybe this is the closest we have been to pole position. I was really confident for the race - but to be honest when the temperature went up we changed a bit on the bike too, because we knew the temperature would go up, and we knew this (change) should be better.”
Said VDM, but the race was maybe the hardest part of his weekend to date. “After the first lap I struggled so much, and because I had no rear grip I struggled a lot with the front, so to be honest when I was in fourth position that was it for me I saw that I was faster than the fifth guy.
“I just stayed there and tried to survive. Unfortunately for Lorenzo he crashed so I was a bit lucky with the podium but we have some important points, especially for the championship. Tomorrow we have to improve the bike. If I can feel comfortable on the bike from the start, it would already be a big step forward.”
There will be at least six riders to fight through for VDM, under the third row starting grid rules for the race one podium trio, but VDM knows a good start could see him set to get into contention again. If the bottleneck at turn three can be negotiated, of course.
“We have to improve the start, and like today, we say that you have to be lucky in turn three - because a lot of things can happen there” said VDM, alluding to the crash between Fores and Laverty. “As long as we have the pace we can make our way to the front.”
VDM has brought some bike changes with him from testing, and wants to keep them even if his bike was not perfect in the race one heat.
“We have some small adjustments on the bike and I have to say that even though I did not feel confident today in the race I do think that it is a step forward,” he stated. “We are not going to change it for tomorrow, we have to find another solution.”