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Van der Mark: “My main goal is to improve in every session”

Dutchman replaces Folger at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 in Malaysia

Michael van der Mark replaces Jonas Folger at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 for the Malaysian GP, with the German still sidelined as he recovers from illness. Already a podium finisher for Yamaha in WorldSBK, van der Mark is also a three-time winner of the Suzuka 8H – most recently taking victory in 2017 for the first time with Yamaha – and a World Champion, having dominated the 2014 World Supersport season to take the crown. First called up for MotoGP™ duty to replace Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) at Aragon, that was called off as the ‘Doctor’ was passed fit to ride – but Sepang offers him a new opportunity to try a MotoGP™ machine.

Folger's replacement: Who is Michael van der Mark?

“I’m really happy,” smiles the Dutchman. “Obviously I went to Aragon to replace Valentino and then he rode the bike – which is still incredible – and then a couple of weeks later I finally get this opportunity. It’ll be interesting, and amazing to ride a MotoGP bike for the first time.”

There are a number of key differences between the R1 in World Superbike and the M1 ‘Magic Michael’ will be riding at Sepang – with tyres and brakes sure to prove two of the biggest changes to adapt to. But the Dutchman has a succinct goal for the weekend: progress.

“There’s a lot to learn during the weekend and it’s difficult to say what I expect,” says the Yamaha rider. “But I hope to enjoy the weekend and improve in every session. That’s my main goal. If I’ve done that, by the end of the weekend I can be happy.”

Van der Mark on his MotoGP™ debut at Sepang

One extra challenge is the track time at Sepang enjoyed by so many on the MotoGP™ grid due to the venue’s use during preseason testing. But one extra advantage for van der Mark is that he knows the track - in both the dry and the wet – and has won there before.

“It will be difficult because everyone has tested so much here,” explains van der Mark, “but I have to stay calm and improve every time I go out. The track is difficult but I’ve raced here and it’s one of my favourite tracks. The weather will be difficult, but I know Sepang in the wet and the dry, and it’s just me and the bike that have to make progress.”

Step 1 is FP1, with the lights going out for van der Mark’s first taste of MotoGP™ on Friday morning.