Exuberant, dynamic and captivating: Michael van der Mark sits down to discuss everything from the new R1, to his new teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu and his ambitions for the year ahead
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team) may have relinquished the third-place position in the Championship standings last season but he is more than ready to battle once again this year. The 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is getting closer and the 2014 World Supersport Champion is keen to get underway at Phillip Island – a track at which he has enjoyed podium success at before.
Speaking ahead of the season-opening round Down Under, the 27-year-old said: “I’m looking forward to the new season with the 2020 R1 – which is not a completely different bike – but there are a lot of new parts and improvements that will help us. We need to keep making progress, and with this new bike, that for sure will enable us to make another step.”
Four times a Suzuka 8 Hour winner across two manufacturers, van der Mark has unrivalled pace on any motorcycle. However, with the new Yamaha looking to be a refined package for 2020, the Dutchman looks like he has one of his best WorldSBK seasons in prospect. Three times a WorldSBK race winner already, he will want to add to that tally in 2020.
“One of the improvements is the aerodynamics; it works much better for tall riders like Toprak and me,” said van der Mark, commenting on the improvements on the new R1. “It is a lot more protective and I think we can get a little bit better top speed. Also, I think the fairing design has brought some other benefits, so again it’s a positive feeling.
“Together with Öhlins and our performance engineers, we’ve made a good step forwards to find grip – as it’s always been our main issue. Already last year we made a step and it was really important, I felt like we have found a really good direction and exactly what we are looking for. I don’t know any numbers, but this new bike feels a bit faster as well – that’s always nice!”
Having been teammates with Sylvain Guintoli, Nicky Hayden and Alex Lowes in the past, Michael van der Mark has often had a quick counterpart on the other side of the garage. In 2020, the theme continues and he’s joined by Turkish star Toprak Razgatlioglu. Enjoying a positive relationship and keen to get the R1 to the top in WorldSBK, both riders form an exciting partnership for the new year.
Speaking about his new teammate, van der Mark said: “I like him! With Alex, the relationship was always great, but it’s also good to have Toprak in the team as a young, up-and-coming kid. He’s been fast right from the start and we’ve had some really nice battles in the past. I’m really looking forward to the season, I think we can have some good battles again and I’ll be working hard to make sure I’m on top! He’ll keep me on my toes, but that’s what everybody wants. His style is so different to mine, but that’s interesting to learn from as well.”
Summing up what his targets are for the 2020 season, the aim was quite simple for van der Mark: “Win races. If we can win races then we can build a challenge to fight for the Championship!”
Find out whether Michael van der Mark can be in with a shout of WorldSBK Championship success with the WorldSBK VideoPass!