Positive start for Lowes in Free Practice

Positive start for Lowes in Free Practice

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The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team got off to a positive start on Friday in Aragon at Round 3 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship despite mixed weather conditions. Alex Lowes ended the day in sixth overall on the combined timesheets after making the most of the dry track time available in FP3 before the rain returned to set a 1:51.347, 0.695s off the fastest rider. Incredibly, this was exactly the same time as his teammate Michael van der Mark's fastest lap set in FP2, with both riders making it through to Saturday's SP2.

It was mission accomplished for the Pata Yamaha team on Friday at Motorland Aragon, as Early rain meant that FP1 was held on a wet track and then the showers returned 10 minutes into FP3, with FP2 the only fully dry session. After the stifling heat and humidity in Thailand at the last round, the changeable conditions that greeted the team in Spain were quite a change. The rain showers made it hard for everyone to find a good setup and meant that the first priority for the team was to ensure both riders made it through to Superpole 2 on Saturday, a target that was successfully achieved.

Lowes is aiming to continue the podium form that saw him finish in a superb third place in Race 2 at Buriram, but having received a number of updates in Buriram, it was important he got track time with his Pata Yamaha R1 to find the best setup for the Motorland Aragon track. Unfortunately, a wet FP1 meant that he did not get the dry track time desired, with the 27-year-old British rider ending the session in ninth with a 2:04.827 (+2.549s). By the time FP2 came around, the sun was shining and the track was dry, with Lowes setting a 1:51.727 (+1.075s) as he started to settle into a rhythm. FP3 began dry, but with ominous storm clouds appearing in the sky, the 2013 British Superbike Champion knew he didn't have much time before the rain came. He went out right at the start of the session pushing hard, improving to a 1:51.347 - amazingly matching his teammate's time from FP2 exactly - to end the day sixth overall on the combined timesheets, 0.695s off Marco Melandri, ready to battle in SP2 on Saturday.

Van der Mark was another looking to carry his stunning podium momentum from the previous round to Aragon after he stormed to second in Race 2 in Thailand. The 25-year-old Dutch rider was quick straight away in the wet conditions of FP1, battling in the top three for most of the session before ending it in fifth place with a 2:03.427. The dry conditions that greeted everyone for FP2 also saw him hit the ground running, setting a 1:51.347 - his fastest time of the day - and impressing once again. While trying to work on the perfect setup for Saturday's qualifying and race, he only managed five laps in FP3 before the rain came, with his time from FP2 seeing him end the day in seventh due to his second fastest lap time being slower than his teammate Lowes. The 2014 WorldSSP Champion knows there is work to do still but is confident of being able to fight at the front on Saturday.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action at Motorland Aragon at 8:45 am local time (CEST) on Saturday morning for FP4, with SP2 scheduled for 10:55 am and the 18-lap Race 1 due to start at 1 pm.


Image and write up courtesy of Yamaha Racing