Michael van der Mark took his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP to eighth and seventh place finishes respectively in today’s two ninth-round World Superbike championship races at Laguna Seca in the USA.
Both 25-lap races were won by British rider Chaz Davies as van der Mark, 22, got two good starts from a lowly 15th place on the grid. Race one turned out to be a relatively lonely affair, the Dutch rider finishing in eighth place, nine seconds behind Pata Honda team-mate Sylvain Guintoli.
Guintoli himself enjoyed an impressive start in the first outing, running as high as fifth in the early stages after starting from ninth place on the grid. The reigning World Superbike champion eventually finished seventh.
Rain threatened the 3.61km Laguna circuit for race two and, indeed, spots began falling early in the race but they amounted to nothing. However, during the uncertainty and following a solid start, Guintoli was jostling for position towards the end of lap two when Alex Lowes entered pit lane, colliding with the 33-year-old Frenchman. Guintoli damaged his right thumb in the ensuing crash but was otherwise unhurt.
Van der Mark was left to fly the Pata Honda flag alone, bringing his CBR home in a creditable seventh place. He leaves California immediately to fly to Japan where he is targeting a third successive victory in the iconic Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race next Sunday.
The Ducthman was happy with his weekend’s work. He said: “It’s been quite a difficult weekend and, together with trying to learn this amazing circuit, we have struggled to get the bike set up properly, so I had to come a long way from 15th on the grid. I made a really good start in the first race and moved forward about five places. But I couldn’t keep up with the guys in front of me and ended up in a lonely and boring race for eighth. In race two I had another good start and had a better feeling with the CBR. I was able to keep pushing throughout the race so, in the end, I’m quite happy to get two solid top ten finishes. I’m in a good frame of mind for the 8 Hours now, which I’m really looking forward to.