He finished sixth in this year’s championship, but we have ranked BMW’s first WorldSBK race winner in eight years, Michael Van Der Mark, fifth in our top ten riders of 2021 list.

The Dutchman got off to a relatively slow start in his first season with the German manufacturer, however, Van Der Mark made a breakthrough at round four (Donington Park) as he scored three top fives, including a first podium of the season. 

Van Der Mark, who took advantage of the damp/wet conditions as did team-mate Tom Sykes who also secured a double podium, then continued that form into his home round at Assen by finishing fourth and sixth in both feature races. 

While BMW have struggled to match Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati on a consistent basis since making their full factory return in 2019, race one in Assen was perhaps the best indication yet that improvements are being made - more so than his victory in Portimao later in the year.

It was the first time we’ve seen a BMW rider consistently set the pace in a dry race, and had it not been for a compromised starting position - began the race in ninth - then a race victory could have been possible.  

That type of pace was not on display again until Van Der Mark took a surprising win at the Algarve International Circuit.

Just like Donington Park it was another wet race and the former Pata Yamaha rider executed quick moves on Axel Bassani and Toprak Razgatlioglu, before hunting down race-leader Scott Redding. 

Van Der Mark pulled clear after getting through on lap five of the Superpole race, this was after Jonathan Rea crashed from the lead on lap two. 

Van Der Mark’s win was BMW’s first since 2013, so with that in mind, his three total podiums and ten top five finishes, we believe Van Der Mark deserves to rank fifth in our top ten riders of 2021 list. 

One area that was a weakness compared to Sykes, but also to his overall campaign was qualifying. 

Van Der Mark had five rounds where he started race one outside the top ten, while having just two top five starts throughout the 13 rounds. 

Although this didn’t affect his positioning on our list, it’s an area that needs to improve for both him and the team as they look to become consistent podium challenges in 2022.

Competing at the front should also be aided by the team’s decision to bring in ex-Ducati rider Redding, which will be another tough challenge for Van Der Mark to contend with. 

Van Der Mark 2021 stats: 

Championship Finish: 6th

Points: 262

Wins: 1

Podiums: 3

Pole Positions: 0

Top Ten Results: 29

Points Scores: 32

Front Row Starts: 1

Overall crash total: 7

Non-Finishes: 5

Races: 37