In fine form and with the Netherlands calling him home for the next round, Michael van der Mark has plenty of reason to smile after Round 4 of 2021
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has enjoyed a dramatic Prosecco DOC UK Round, with the Championship lead changing hands at Donington Park. However, there were plenty of heroic stories up and down the field, including Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who was able to take a fine first podium in the Tissot Superpole Race on Sunday morning, whilst he backed it up with a fifth top five of the season, of which it was his third of the weekend.
Dutchman van der Mark’s elation started on Saturday, as he qualified on the front row of the grid for the first time since Argentina in 2019 at the Circuito San Juan Villicum, whilst also out-qualifying teammate Tom Sykes for the first time. Then, it was a solid ride to fifth in Race 1 as he battled hard with the likes of Leon Haslam (Team HRC), Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and teammate Sykes throughout the race. However, it was third place in the Tissot Superpole Race that saw van der Mark shine, helping BMW to a first double-podium since the Nurburgring in 2013.
With all of the progress made at Donington Park, van der Mark reflected on what has been a stellar round at the circuit he took his first wins on back in 2018: “It’s been a good weekend; on Saturday in Superpole, we just made the right strategy with the tyres at the end and went for the harder option. The Superpole Race was quite fun, as the track was wet when we left pitlane but then it was drying and nearly everyone decided to go for intermediates. I think it was the right choice but also in the last couple of laps, we could’ve used the slicks as well. Anyway, the pace was there, it was quite fun to do this race as the grip was low and everyone was seeing how hard they could push. I am really happy with my first podium with the BMW M 1000 RR.”
With his strong weekend on British soil, the 28-year-old is eighth overall in the Championship but is only 36 points behind Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who occupies third place at this present moment. Whilst the BMW M 1000 RR may be new and continuing to find its feet in the World Superbike paddock, van der Mark has taken nine top ten finishes on it from 12 races, of which six have been top six results.
Reflecting on his fifth place in Race 2 and also looking ahead to his home round, van der Mark said: “In Race 2, I didn’t get a great start and I felt like a struggled to change direction with the bike as it was quite heavy, which made it a long race. In the end, I had a nice battle with Alex and managed to finish fifth, so I think we can be quite happy. We’ve had a good weekend and the next one is at Assen, my home round! I’m looking forward to that; there’s not so much hard braking there, so that will suit us, as well having lots of fans there too, which is great!”
Can van der Mark shine at home? Find out with the WorldSBK VideoPass!