Having banked a healthy number of pre-season testing laps Michael van der Mark has grown familiar with the Pata Yamaha and feels a change in riding style will be vital in his new challenge for 2017.
Between the Dutch rider and team-mate Alex Lowes the Pata Yamaha squad completed 272 laps at Portimao and has plenty of data to pore over, but for van der Mark the biggest search is within himself.
Adapting to the Yamaha R1 is a tricky task and despite the Dutchman's times being competitive he admitted to being too aggressive and needing a more patient approach to his riding style.
“I need to remember to ride the bike smoother,” the 2014 World Supersport champion said. “I didn't do that in Jerez but I tried to focus on it here.
"In Portimao you can't open the throttle as aggressively as you can at other tracks so it was important for me to test here and for me to adapt my style to the bike. I've found that the bike is so easy to move that I've been diving into corners.”
Van der Mark has spent the past two years on the Honda Fireblade and explains switching to the Yamaha R1 requires a different riding skill to extract the maximum performance from the bike.
“In the past I couldn't dive into the corner at the speed because the bike wouldn't let me but with this bike it's possible so I've been diving to the apex but have no exit as a result,” he said. “I need to keep calm on the bike and focus on this but it's all coming together step by step for me.”
Overall it has been a very positive pre-season for the team's new rider and van der Mark commented consistently about how good he feels on the bike and the confidence that it is giving him.
With eight days of running underneath his belt since making the switch from Honda the early season races will likely be able getting closer to the front rather than challenging for podiums as he did 12 months ago.
“We went out early on the second day and tried a lot of different things but it's quite difficult to stay fast and consistent when you change the feeling on every lap,” he said. “I was getting a better feeling of the bike all the time and I did a race simulation in the afternoon but I had a technical problem during that run. I didn't want to stop the bike during the run and when I came in it took us some time to find what the problem was.
“I'm very happy about this test because we were fast from the start and the feeling was good. We're a lot closer to the front here too and that's what I was looking for.”
Michael van der Mark has replaced Sylvain Guintoli in the Pata Yamaha rider line-up for the 2017 World Superbike championship after splitting with long-term team Ten Kate Honda last year.
By Kent Brockman