Michael van der Mark upset the formbook at Donington Park to claim a sensational maiden WorldSBK victory in race one on Saturday. The Dutchman held off Kawasaki team-mates Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, who had been expected to dominate, as Yamaha took their first victory since 2011 and first with the current YZF-R1 model.
History had already been made earlier in the day with Sykes taking a record-breaking 44th career pole position, moving him ahead of Troy Corser as the most successful Superpole rider of all time. With Rea the only rider within half a second of the Yorkshireman, a showdown between the two factory Kawasakis looked likely.
The anticipated battle kicked off instantly with the two world champions swapping places twice inside the opening four laps before Sykes slipped through at the Old Hairpin on lap six. Crucially though, the Yamaha of van der Mark was keeping pace with the Kawasakis and it soon became apparent that the Dutchman had the pace to go through.
An error from Rea at the Melbourne Loop handed second place to van der Mark on lap 13 and within two laps of being released, the Yamaha man breezed past Sykes into a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Rea moved past his team-mate to grab second on lap 17 and promptly set the fastest lap of the race but his late charge ultimately proved fruitless as van der Mark claimed victory.
Sykes finished third ahead of the second PATA Yamaha of Alex Lowes with Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty finishing fifth and sixth respectively for Aprilia. Loris Baz, who had earlier qualified a magnificent third for Althea BMW, finished seventh ahead of an off-colour Chaz Davies while Leon Haslam grabbed ninth despite last lap contact with team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu, an incident which knocked the Turk out of the points.
WorldSBK 2018: Prosecco DOC UK Round: Race One
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