Michael van der Mark has clinched his maiden World Superbike podium with Pata Yamaha in race two at Portimao with an impressive second place which acts as a timely momentum boost ahead of his MotoGP debut.

After slipping to fifth early on in race two the Dutch rider found grip and rhythm on the YZF-R1 to get past Leon Camier and Eugene Laverty to take third place at the midway stage. Having held station despite a late charge by Marco Melandri, van der Mark was then promoted to second place with Chaz Davies crashing out ahead of him.

van der Mark says he’s been filled with elation and self-belief having missed out on a potential podium for Pata Yamaha on a couple of occasions in 2017, most notably race one at Misano when he was leading, and says the rostrum comes at an ideal time.

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"It's amazing to finish on the podium after so much bad luck this year,” van der Mark said. “We have struggled sometimes with the setup of the bike and have been close to the podium a couple of times only to miss out.

“It wasn't really easy, but I knew I had quite a good pace and starting from P2 helped me a lot. At the start of the race I was lacking a bit of grip, so I couldn't follow the front guys for the first couple of laps, but then I found my pace. It was a really difficult race but I was stronger than the guys behind me. I got a bit lucky that Chaz Davies crashed out but I am so happy to have got my first podium with Yamaha.

“We have worked so hard all year and I am so glad to finally reward my team and Yamaha with a podium. When you finally take a podium, you get the self-belief because you know you can do it.

“Everything came together today and it is always good to be standing on the podium and now I want to enjoy this feeling at every race.”

van der Mark will stay in Portimao for the one-day World Superbike test before heading straight to Aragon for his MotoGP debut as the injured Valentino Rossi’s replacement in the Movistar Yamaha team.

“We found a really good base setup that seems to work everywhere, so we will start with the same bike in Magny-Cours after tomorrow's test, where we only need to adjust some small things with the bike and I am looking forward to the next race,” he said.

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Team mate Alex Lowes was also on a charge, setting fast laps, when his bike went sideways and threw him off. Very much like the strange crash that Pedrosa had at Aragon a few years back when MM came too close and knocked his traction control sensor off. Maybe the bumps at Portimao had the same effect on Lowes' Yamaha?

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Yeah, Van der Mark deserves the win, er 2nd best.!  When he was leading then his rear tire went kaput throwing his hard charging to no effect, this 2nd best is well deserving.  Now at the upcoming MotoGP in lieu of Dr Rossi, if Van der Mark can climb to the rostrum, that will be the day!

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