Van der Mark Ends Debut WSBK Season Strongly Under Qatar Lights

Van der Mark Ends Debut WSBK Season Strongly Under Qatar Lights

Credit: Honda Worldwide

Michael van der Mark continued the impressive finish to his debut World Superbike championship by taking his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP to two top five finishes in today’s final races of the 2015 season at Losail in Qatar.

Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark

The races were won by Jordi Torres and Leon Haslam but, starting from ninth place on the grid for both 17-lap outings, van der Mark was able to maintain the superb pace he had shown in the opening three free practice sessions, taking fifth place in race one and improving to fourth in race two.

It was only when the grip from his rear tire began to drop off in both outings that the 22-year-old Dutch ace was forced to reduce his pace but, with a points haul of 80 points from the final seven races of the season, van der Mark retains seventh place in the 2015 WSBK championship standings.

For his team-mate Sylvain Guintoli the Qatar races marked his final World Superbike outings on the CBR. The French rider suffered from technical problems during free practice and qualifying and started tonight’s floodlit races at the 5.380km Losail circuit from 13th on the grid.

Guintoli was able to improve on his grid position to take tenth place in race one but enjoyed a much more positive second encounter, matching the lap times of the leading riders and eventually crossing the line in fifth place, behind his Honda team-mate, but ahead of van der Mark in sixth place in the championship points table.


Honda Rider Comments

Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
Race result: 5th / 4th
“The weekend has been great after we started really well on Friday. The CBR felt good and the pace was strong and we were able to improve on Saturday, except in Superpole, which wasn’t so good. Tonight in race one I didn’t have the same grip as the other guys in the early laps so I had to push hard and that used up the tires too quickly but I was able to finish in fifth. For race two we changed the bike a little bit and the pace of the front guys wasn’t as fast as in race one. I had the same kind of pace as those guys and I could stay with them but I couldn’t really get past. I kept pushing but in the last few laps the tires were completely gone. I’m happy with two solid results for the end of the season and looking forward to start work for 2016 during testing next month.”
Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
Race result: 10th / 5th
“It was a tough last weekend but there were definitely some positives. In the middle of race two we had a good pace, similar to the guys at the front, and that felt quite good. But we had some issues with the bike during Friday and Saturday unfortunately so it’s been a difficult weekend. At least in race two, despite a bad start, I was able to claw my way closer to the front and the pace was quite good. We changed a lot after race one – went for the softer tire, changed the gearing and the swing arm length. But I got stuffed a bit into the first corner and then did my best lap mid-race. The weekend has been a reflection of the whole season really: we’ve had some good moments but some struggles too. In the end we stuck together as a team and worked really hard on three sides – the team, Honda and my self – and I’m happy with that.”
Pieter Breddels (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
“Sylvain started in the middle of the pack in race one but wasn’t able to get into some really good lap times. In the second race he got into a good rhythm and matched the pace of the front riders which took him away from the second group for fifth place. It was a great effort after the problems earlier in the weekend and we wish him all the best in his new adventure for 2016. Michael had really good pace all weekend but we put some used tires in for warm-up and that didn’t really work. He got a reasonable start in race one but had to settle for fifth spot. He was in the front group for race two though and had really good pace. But lap-by-lap, sector-by-sector he had to let go a bit as his tire went, but he still finished in fourth place. I think he pushed to get the best possible result from the bike here and we’re happy to finish the season with these results. With Nicky Hayden joining Mikey for next season, we’ve got some exciting plans and a great line-up as we head into the winter tests.”
Sylvain Guintoli
Sylvain Guintoli
Kyle Smith
Kyle Smith

Smith Takes First Win Under The Night Sky In Qatar

Rookie rider Kyle Smith (Pata Honda) scored his first FIM Supersport World Championship win of the year at Losail after working his way past the leading riders and holding them of at the end with a display of full-on sliding that delighted the small but enthusiastic crowd.

Smith, who had been fifth in qualifying at the final round of the year, won by 0.971 seconds from world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) and Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta) allowing the chasing par no opportunity to draw near him in the last of the 15-laps. His win, after two previous podiums in his rookie WSS season, helped him to finish fifth overall in the final points tally.

PJ Jacobsen (Core” Motorsport Thailand Honda) was the next best CBR600RR rider on show in Qatar, fifth at a 5.380km circuit he admitted caused him some difficulties he had not experienced at other venues on the championship trail. He was already a guaranteed second overall in the championship, and the top Honda rider in the final points table.

A seventh place finish in the Losail night race for Roberto Rolfo (Team Lorini Honda) ensured he would be seventh in the championship itself having had a season-best finish of fifth place at Assen, back in mid-April.

One-off rider Sergio Gadea (Team Lorini Honda) placed 12th in his first ever WSS race, just ahead of his Spanish countryman Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing Team Honda) in 13th.

Martin Cardenas (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) was unable to get to Losail because of a travel visa issue and his place was taken by Kevin Manfredi, who finished 15th, scoring the final point on offer. One-off rider Stefan Hill (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) had to enter the pits for adjustments but went back out to finish 16th. He was one lap down and the final race finisher.

Australian rider Aiden Wagner (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) experienced an overheating clutch off the start that caused his early retirement from the action, while Kevin Wahr (SMS Racing Honda) also had to pit and then retire.

Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) started from the front row but had a bad start and then finally fell from his machine, to end his championship season sixth. Glenn Scott (AARK Racing Honda) and his team elected not to start after a heavy crash on Friday. Not having sufficient new material to hand at this long-haul round to make absolutely sure of raceday, they decided not to compete.

In the final analysis of the year four Honda riders took places inside the top seven after the 12-round season.

Honda Rider Comments

Kyle Smith (Pata Honda)
I had no idea I might win tonight – Kenan [Sofuoglu] had such fast pace yesterday in qualifying. I thought I could run for the podium positions but I didn’t think I could beat Kenan. A few laps in I felt really comfortable with the CBR and felt like I had the pace so I just pushed all the way to the end. I felt good in the early laps but struggled to get past PJ [Jacobsen]. We made a big change for this race – something we haven’t tried all season – but it definitely made a big improvement. I knew Kenan was behind me for the last couple of laps, and he’s not a good man to have behind you! But I just kept my head down and tried to make no mistakes and came home with a victory and I’m just so happy. I want to thank all the guys at Ten Kate and Honda and I hope to be up here again next season.
PJ Jacobsen (Core” Motorsport Thailand Honda)
The CBR600RR won here last year but I just seem to struggle here at Losail a lot. It is the only track on the schedule that I feel I cannot get figured out. I need to do a lot more thinking about this track and figure out what is wrong to go faster next year. I need to be really prepared for this track. Overall, we finished the season second in the championship and we have had many good results with the Core” Motorsport Thailand team, even with it being all new. With everybody coming together so well it has been a strong year. For the team to get second in the world championship is awesome. It is a good starting point for next year and we will come in a lot harder and try hard to win it next year.”
Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda)
I am gutted really. The race got off in the worst way it could. My clutch bit and I had to grab and go again. Then at the end of the first lap Baldolini hit me and ran me wide. I then got my head down and was pushing hard. I’d just got by Terol and was coming on to the front group but I was carrying so much corner speed that I lost the front. We tried really hard to finish the year on a high and I think we had the pace, but it was more bad luck. After all the effort we went to get a front row start I am really sorry for the whole team.
Roberto Rolfo (Team Lorini Honda)
The end was good and the start not so bad. In the first lap I had some contact with Baldolini who was very fast and tried to overtake but he was a little bit on the limit. I lost three positions in the first lap and I tried to have my pace and it was good at the end. My rhythm was improving every lap. I knew I should concentrate as the tire was very near the limit at the end but I continued with my pace. I overtook Faccani and it was not easy. On the last lap I had a big fight with him. It was a good race, good points for seventh and in the end I took seventh in the championship.
Aiden Wagner (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda)
We cooked the clutch off the start and it just ran out of adjustment so it could not recover. By the first lap in sector three it was getting worse and worse, so I had to pull in. There was nothing we could do about that but we came back after a crash in qualifying. In the first session of warm-up today we put in a hard tire and we were nearly as fast as we had been on a soft tire yesterday. We were definitely improving the bike on a harder tire. It would have been good to see where we could have got to in the race.
Patrick Jacobsen, Kyle Smith
Patrick Jacobsen, Kyle Smith

World Superbike and World Supersport 2015
Round 13: Losail International Circuit

Superbike Race 1
Rank Rider (Team)
1 J. TORRES (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils)
2 J. REA (Kawasaki Racing Team)
3 T. SYKES (Kawasaki Racing Team)
4 C. DAVIES ( Racing-Ducati SBK Team)
5 M. VD MARK (PATA Honda World Superbike Team)
6 L. HASLAM (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils)
10 S. GUINTOLI (PATA Honda World Superbike Team)
Superbike Race 2
Rank Rider (Team)
1 L. HASLAM (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils)
2 C. DAVIES ( Racing-Ducati SBK Team)
3 T. SYKES (Kawasaki Racing Team)
4 M. VD MARK (PATA Honda World Superbike Team)
5 S. GUINTOLI (PATA Honda World Superbike Team)
6 L. MERCADO (BARNI Racing Team)
Rank Rider (Team)
1 K. SMITH (PATA Honda World Supersport Team)
2 K. SOFUOGLU (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
3 L. ZANETTI (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)
4 L. MAHIAS (MG Competition)
5 P. JACOBSEN (CORE” Motorsport Thailand)
6 N. TEROL (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)
7 R. ROLFO (Team Lorini)
12 S.GADEA (Team Lorini)
13 N. CALERO (Orelac Racing Team)
15 K. MANFREDI (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda)
16 S.HILL (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda)
RT K. WAHR (SMS Racing)
RT G. REA (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda)
RT A. WAGNER (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda)
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