Alex Lowes has moved up to third place in the World Superbike riders’ standings after a solid showing at Laguna Seca at the expense of Pata Yamaha team-mate Michael van der Mark but is anticipating a tough fight against the Dutch rider for the remainder of the season.

With Jonathan Rea and Alvaro Bautista duelling for the World Superbike title, an intra-team battle has emerged between the two Pata Yamaha riders for third place in the championship.

Since van der Mark was forced to sit out the Misano round with a fractured wrist, Lowes has made gradual inroads into the championship deficit to his team-mate. The British rider duly claimed third place with his fourth place finish in the final race at Laguna Seca as van der Mark failed to score.

Having been off the pace of the podium fight, Lowes says he maximised his results and expects a tough fight from his team-mate over the second half of the season to take third place in the final standings.

“It was a fairly decent weekend, at a track at which we have always struggled a bit and were never really on the pace, but unfortunately it was the same for all the Yamahas,” Lowes said. “This afternoon I felt that I did the best that I could have - the leading trio were just too far ahead for me to make any inroads into their lead - so I’m fairly happy with fourth.

“The result means I’ve overtaken Michael in the championship standings and I’m now third, but it was a shame he had a problem with the bike today, as he's done such a great job here and at Donington so soon after his Misano injury.

“But that’s racing sometimes and it’s certainly going to make for an interesting final four rounds with both of us determined to finish the season in the top three.”

Both Lowes and van der Mark head to the Suzuka 8 Hours to defend Yamaha’s crown at the iconic endurance race, where the British rider has claimed victory for three consecutive years with the Japanese manufacturer, before the World Superbike summer break in August.

“I’m now looking forward to the Suzuka 8 Hours with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, a little bit of time off and then back to WorldSBK at Portimao,” he said. “It’s a track that suits the R1 well and at which we will try to fight at the front again.”

Lowes has a five-point advantage over van der Mark in the fight for third place, while Leon Haslam remains in close contention for Kawasaki just 18 points behind Lowes in fifth place.