Yamaha WorldSBK’s Michael van der Mark Interview
After winning the 2014 World Supersport Championship aboard the factory Honda CBR600RR, Michael van der Mark joined Sylvain Guintoli with Honda in World Superbike. During his season of adapting to the Honda CBR1000RR SP, he finished seventh overall.
The 24-year-old Dutch rider continued with factory Honda for 2016, this time joined by 2006 MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden. Van der Mark progressed, earning six podiums and finishing the season fourth overall.
For 2017 WorldSBK, van der Mark joins the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK team, this time riding alongside Alex Lowes. He already completed two private tests in November aboard the WorldSBK-spec YZF-R1, amassing 300 laps.
Now, for the first time, Yamaha officially introduces van der Mark with an exclusive interview. During the interview, featured in the latest Yamaha Insider magazine, van der Mark discusses the YZF-R1, his move to the Yamaha family and British-based team, and his goals for 2017 World Superbike.
Yamaha Racing: You have been racing in the WorldSBK paddock for six full seasons, with national experience for the six years prior to that, but how did you originally get into motorcycle racing?
Michael van der Mark: “It was down to my father, he was racing long before I was born. When I was younger he was always watching motorcycle racing on TV and we went a couple of times to the Dutch TT together. Then when I was 11 years old I sat on the bike of Valentino Rossi and said to my father “I want to race!”, that was the point where it all started!”
Yamaha Racing: Having now established yourself as a firm WorldSBK challenger, what keeps you motivated?
Michael van der Mark: “The feeling of winning is my biggest motivation. There is no better feeling than that! The most important thing for me is to make sure I always do my job to the best of my ability.”
Yamaha Racing: What is your favorite memory from your racing career so far?
Michael van der Mark: “The race I became World Champion in 2014 at Jerez! We had some really big battles throughout the race and then at the end I not only won the race but became champion. This has always been my goal since I started racing so it was a very good day, a great memory and the highlight of my career so far.”
Yamaha Racing: You have been with the same manufacturer since joining the series full time in 2011, how do you feel about switching to Yamaha after so long with one team?
Michael van der Mark: “I think this opportunity came at the right time for me. The results have been good throughout last season but my feeling told me I needed a new challenge. To meet new people, work in a different team and with a different bike will give me a fresh approach as we attack the championship next year.”
Yamaha Racing: You have already participated in two pre-season tests with the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team, at Aragon and Jerez, what are your first impressions of the WorldSBK YZF-R1?
Michael van der Mark: “My first impressions were really good and straight out of the pits I felt happy with the bike! At this early stage we still have a lot of work to do but I can already feel so much potential in the YZF-R1, which makes me even more motivated for the coming season.”
Yamaha Racing: What were your first impressions of the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team, and how did you find working with your new crew?
Michael van der Mark: “The team here is great; they have a lot of experience and work really hard. I think we can say that right from the start we all had a good feeling and working with the guys went perfect right from the beginning of the first test!”
Yamaha Racing: The WorldSBK Championship is the earliest series to fire into action so there isn’t much time before the first race of the year, at Phillip Island in late-February. What is your ambition for 2017 and for the future?
Michael van der Mark: “I have only one goal and that’s to win races and fight for the world championship. That’s my main focus!”