Despite two months away from his Pata Honda CBR600RR, Michael van der Mark began round nine of the World Supersport championship at Jerez in Spain in sparkling form today.
The 21-year-old Dutch rider and current series leader finished on top of the time sheets in both free practice sessions despite, like many other top riders, being unable to improve on his morning time as track temperatures soared to 55 degrees.
Van der Mark’s Pata Honda team-mate, Lorenzo Zanetti, 27, was fifth fastest in this morning’s cooler conditions but finished Free Practice 2 in second place, only fractionally slower than his team-mate this afternoon.
With similar weather conditions expected at the 4.423km Jerez circuit tomorrow, the afternoon qualifying session to determine grid positions for Sunday’s race, in which the destination of this year’s world title could be decided, will be as important as ever.
Michael van der Mark – P1
I’ve got to be quite happy with that after such a long break. I haven’t ridden the CBR foreight weeks so it took some getting used to again but we were fast from the first session. Ihad a good feeling with the bike and we tried some other things this afternoon, but thetrack temperature was a little bit too high. We lost a bit of grip but the overall feeling isgood and, after the long summer break, we are up to speed again.
Lorenzo Zanetti – P5
Finally we’re back! This morning was a little strange after two months off the bike but atthe end of the session I was able to get into the top five, which was good. Today I had agood motivation because I want to fight for the podium here and I need to work a lot onrace distance. I tried a few tyre options today on the front and the rear and I was secondfastest this afternoon. OK, Mikey [van der Mark] and me had some problems because thetrack temperature was so high but at the moment the base setting is really good.
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
Lorenzo knew what he had to do here and that’s to get back to the top three. In themorning when it was cooler he improved his time at the end of the session. Even when itwas really hot this afternoon he managed to go second. From the first lap this morning tothe last lap this afternoon Michael has been really fast. He has one or two things to sortbut he’s calm and in control, so it’s been a good start to the weekend.