Michael van der Mark showed rapid pace in the Superpole Race in order to claim the first victory for BMW since 2013
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship saw a thrilling Motul Portuguese Round at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, one of the most incredible rounds of the season so far. Despite the constant swaying and swinging of the title pendulum, there was a huge success story coming from the Tissot Superpole Race as Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) took BMW back to the top with victory in a soaking wet Sunday race.
Van der Mark has looked competitive right from the start of the weekend, with an impressive showing in FP1 on Friday, before blasting to fifth on the grid in Tissot Superpole, making it five manufacturers inside the top five. Race 1 saw him battle for the podium before he was taken out by Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) at Turn 5, but the wet weather of the Superpole Race lent itself to van der Mark as he set the fastest lap of the race and took the lead on Lap 4 of the race. From then on, he pulled out a gap of over four seconds to give BMW a first win since the Nurburgring in Race 2, 2013, with Chaz Davies.
Speaking about his win and giving the German manufacturer a first in eight years, van der Mark said: “This morning, we had a wet Superpole Race and already in Warm-Up, I felt really good with the bike and with the rain tyres. I was confident and at the start of the race, I just tried to stay calm. Jonny crashed out and I just tried to stay smooth; our bike works better with the harder Pirelli rain tyres, so I was happy with the allocation. Then, Redding went a bit wide, and I went underneath him. I was just doing my rhythm and riding hard. I had a five second lead at the end so I’m really happy and really proud, the guys at BMW, they deserve this win. We know we aren’t there yet, but it gives a lot of motivation to the guys.”
Race 2 was a slightly calmer affair for van der Mark, as he rode to a solid sixth place, not able to capitalise on his first place start on the grid for the final race of the weekend. Having been bullied back on the opening lap, van der Mark did recover and was able to gain ten valuable World Championship points, placing him sixth in the Championship standings.
The Dutchman joins a very exclusive club, becoming just the second rider in WorldSBK to win with both Yamaha and BMW. Marco Melandri is the only other rider to achieve this, and both achieved this in consecutive years. Melandri’s first win came at Donington Park for Yamaha back in 2011, whereas his first win for BMW came at the same track. Van der Mark won at Catalunya in the Superpole Race in 2020, whereas he’s now won at Portimao. It’s the fourth straight season where van der Mark has won a race.
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