Michael van der Mark – On Monday afternoon at 12:00 noon, the news was officially released that Michael van der Mark will make his debut as a MotoGP driver to replace the injured Valentino Rossi during the next Grand Prix. A unique opportunity for the Dutch citizen who sees a long cherished wish fulfilled. On Monday afternoon we spoke briefly to a happy and delighted Rotterdammer.
Michael van der Mark
After the news was officially announced on Monday afternoon, the world was literally on the headline for Michael van der Mark. From regional newspapers, national newspapers, national newspapers, national and international motorsport media, local, all wanted to know what’s happening, what’s going to happen and how it’s possible that a Dutch driver can act as a substitute for nine times world champion Valentino Rossi. In between all the compulsory talks, the sympathetic Rotterdammer took a short while to answer some questions from the Racesport.nl editorial staff.
At what point did you find out that it was serious and Yamaha would actually choose you?
“It was serious from the beginning, but at the end of last week it was evident.”
What expectations does Yamaha have you?
“They have not expressed expectations or put any pressure on them. They just want me to get a chance to gain this experience and are curious about how it will go.
What expectations do you have at this moment in time, when did you succeed the weekend?
“It is complicated to have an expectation, I don’t know the machine, and I can’t test. My first meters will be in the first free practice session in the race weekend, and you’ll be riding with the best drivers in the world who already have a lot of MotoGP experience. The tires will be entirely different from my World Superbike R1; the carbon brakes are also new to me. But it’s a fantastic opportunity to gain experience with a MotoGP machine.”
You’ll soon have the complete crew of Valentino Rossi around you, what do you expect from that?
“A lot of information and lots of help. Those people are so experienced, that’s incredible, and that is very valuable to me. Galbusera has worked for Yamaha in WK Superbike for many years and understood the difference well for me as a rider. It can only help in the adaptation.
How will you prepare for the weekend in Aragon?
“Of course, I’m already following MotoGP quite intensively, and you’re sure regularly speaking to people who have experience with MotoGP. Of course, I have been thinking about all aspects and questions I have for a few days. But the fact is that tomorrow (Tuesday 12 Sept) I’m going to Portimao for the WK Superbike race. So from now on, I’ll be switching the button and focusing on Superbike. From Wednesday evening before Aragon, I will spend a lot of time with my crew chief (Silvano Galbusera) to be well prepared for the first MotoGP kilometers.”
How did your own Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team react to the news? Do they immediately give the green light?
“Within Yamaha, the lines are quite short. My contract is with Yamaha Motor Europe, and the people of Yamaha MotoGP have of course been in contact with them to consult. That seems to me to be the right way to act. I am pleased that Yamaha Motor Europe has given permission! The team will give me this opportunity.
Of course, you have already been in contact with your team-mate at the Pata Yamaha team, Alex Lowes. Last year he played a Grand Prix as a replacement for Bradley Smith with the Tech3 Yamaha team. Has he already given you tips or advice?
“It’s funny to think about this now because during the WorldSBK season Alex and I have already discussed what he did on the M1 last year. He told me that it’s a fantastic bike, and he said that I would love it too. It’s so different, fun and safe, so we’ve spoken, but it was before I had the chance to drive the MotoGP machine. But he knows that I will enjoy it, I think it will be a feeling like a child in a candy shop.
Are you going to do it a little more quietly to the MotoGP weekend during the WorldSBK in Portimao next weekend?
“Does not seem to me to be a good plan.”