Round two of the FIM Superbike World Championship 2023 (WorldSBK) in Mandalika, Indonesia, began with promising results on Saturday. Michael van der Mark (NED) finished sixth after an impressive fightback. Sunday, however, turned out to be a wretched day – with misfortune in the races and injuries. Baz fractured his right leg in an incident, while van der Mark crashed and injured his left hand in race two.
Van der Mark qualified tenth, followed by Scott Redding (GBR / ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in eleventh. Van der Mark fought back impressively in race one on Saturday afternoon. Having lost a number of positions in the early stages, he then gradually battled his way back from 14th place. The Dutchman lay eighth entering the penultimate lap and proceeded to gain another two places. Van der Mark produced his fastest lap on the final lap of the race and crossed the finish line sixth, while a technical issue forced Redding out of the race after lying ninth in the first third of the race.
The Superpole Race on Sunday morning had to be suspended after just one lap. Two riders collided and the victim was Baz, who was taken out by a crashing rider. Van der Mark and Redding ended the Superpole Race in eighth and ninth place, improving their grid position accordingly for race two. Race two also proved to be a dramatic affair. On lap seven, Van der Mark crashed out with a highside. Philipp Öttl (GER / Ducati), who was right behind the Dutchman at the time, also hit the deck. The race was red flagged. However, shortly before the race was suspended, Redding skidded and crashed while running in the top ten. As the race restarted in the order at the last timing, Redding had to resume the remaining 14 laps from 14th place. A good restart allowed him to immediately gain places and he went on to finish tenth, just in front of Gerloff in eleventh place. Van der Mark was examined in the Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with two fractured fingers on his left hand.
WorldSBK now has a few weeks off, before the European leg of the season gets underway with round three from 21st to 23rd April in Assen, Netherlands. ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team will travel to Barcelona (ESP) for tests during the break.
Shaun Muir – Team Principal
“Yeah, we had a great Saturday, and coming into this morning’s warm up both Scott and Michael had a good opening session. The sprint race was also a positive outcome, when you qualify from Saturday into the sprint race, just getting on the front three rows is always the aim, and we did that with 8th and 9th so I was really pleased to move up a row. Race 2 was just end to end drama. Mickey had what we think was an issue with the rear tyre, it wasn’t working whatsoever and had a big high side coming out of T11 and fractured two fingers, which is a real shame. Scott also had a crash in Race 2 where he lost the rear. He managed to remount before the red flag, so we were expecting to restart from P9 on the grid, but that was not the case and started on the 5th row in P14, which made it tough for Scott. To finish P10 didn’t justify the effort that went into his race, he was matching the pace from third to tenth which shows how close this championship is. This weekend overall wasn’t a complete disaster, I am pleased with some of the results we’ve had. We now move on to a test at the end of March in Catalunya, then on to Round 3 in Assen.”
Michael Van Der Mark
“I think today was not so bad. In this morning’s sprint race, my first start was okay but my second start wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. It is difficult to pass on this circuit. But to finish eighth in the Superpole race wasn’t that bad because or main target was to gain some positions for the grid of race two. I had a good start but experienced some issues when I tried to shift so I lost some positions. I tried to stay calm and started to go forward step by step. I had a good rhythm but I knew that with the tyre I chose, I would get better towards the end of the race. Unfortunately then in turn 11, I just entered, lost the rear and had a massive highside. It was a shame because I think we could have done a good job again, especially towards the end of the race. But it’s like this. I am quite okay, I just have a small fracture in my finger.”
“It has been a difficult weekend. Mickey got off to a good start in race two, he had a clear lap. I was boxed in in the first two corners and kind of missed the run with them guys. Then it was just about getting in the rhythm and I ended up with the other two BMWs. It was just a battle between us. I was trying to push but in the end I could not get away so I just sat with them and raced, trying to maybe see what is different or what the bike is doing. Then in the end I made a pass on the two guys to finish 13th. We have a lot of work to do because we are suffering a lot. Mandalika maybe is different. We have to see. The track can make a big difference. “In the last race, I was quite happy with the performance. I made one mistake in the first corner which cost me a couple of positions. I was a bit upset about it but the conditions were really tricky. It was again also a bit unfortunate because I crashed when there was the red flag and then they didn’t go back one complete lap so I went from eighth and I had to start from 14th. You know that from there it is already hard. I made a good start, I came up through the field a bit. But the field is so tight at the moment that it is really hard to make a difference. The lap times are very similar. So I finished tenth. I was happy to finish the race, it was the first time that I felt more comfortable on the bike this year. I hope now that we can build on that for the rest of the season.”