Michael van der Mark says he surpassed both his and Honda Racing's predictions in Thailand after securing pole position, a podium and a fourth place as he marks himself out as the early challenger to the dominant Kawasaki riders.

The 2014 World Supersport champion has enjoyed an impressive start to the year thanks to three podiums in the opening four races while he also stole a march on Kawasaki's Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea by snatching pole position at the Chang International Circuit.

Despite not running trouble-free in either race in Thailand, van der Mark says his results went beyond what his team expected from the second round as he heads into the European stint of the 2016 season 30 points off of World Superbike riders' championship leader Rea and just a single point behind Sykes.

"It was not an easy race but I have to be happy with the result," van der Mark said. "Pole position, third place in race one and now a fourth place definitely surpass the expectations we had before the round, given the difficulties encountered last year. I'm really happy about the bike and my own pace.

"We decided not to change the front tyre type for race two and, although we knew it was a bit of a gamble, it turned out not to be best choice. I did not have the same feeling as in the previous encounter, but it was a risk we had to take and after all, we have 13 more points to add to our tally."

Having secured just three rostrum results in his rookie WSBK season last year the Dutch hotshot has already matched that number in the opening two rounds and looks set to lead the Honda charge as new team-mate Nicky Hayden gets up to speed in the series.



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