Q&A with Michael van der Mark. ‘A podium is the least we can expect at Assen’

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Michael van der Mark is looking forward to racing in front of his home crowd at the TT Circuit Assen this weekend, as World Superbike visits the Netherlands for the fourth round of the 2016 season. Last year, the 22-year-old from Rotterdam surprised everyone by claiming a double podium in spectacular fashion, much to the delight of his home crowd. Following a positive start to this season, van der Mark is now eager to get back on the much more competitive 2016 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP to try and rewrite history once again.

How does it feel to be back racing at Assen?
It’s always a special weekend, no doubt about it. It’s only once per year that you get to race on your home track and it’s amazing to see all the fans coming to cheer you on and to give you their support.

Last weekend you took part in the annual Pit Stop Day organised at Ten Kate’s HQ in Nieuwleusen. How did it go?
I think this year there has been a record attendance and the whole place was really packed with motorcyclists, who enjoyed all the activities and welcomed not just me, but also Nicky [Hayden] and PJ [Jacobsen] in the best possible way. The Pit Stop Day has now become a tradition and it keeps getting better and better.

Compared to 2015, things must feel quite different heading to your home round…
Last year I was a rookie and so I wasn’t expecting anything special in terms of results, but then I found myself in the battle for the top 3 and I managed to get onto the podium in both races. This year it’s different, we’ve had great results in the first two rounds and, despite how Superpole and the two races went, we showed we could also be very fast at Aragón. With how things have been so far in 2016, I have to say that a podium is the least we can expect this weekend. Of course I want to win, like everybody does, but this year is different.

What’s your first memory of riding at the TT Circuit Assen?
I was 12 and I had to get my licence to race at national level. It was a special day, it was the first time I put my knee down! My first race there was in 2008, when I had a wildcard ride in the 125cc World Championship.

You went from being a promising rookie to one of the highest rated riders on the grid. How has life in the Assen paddock changed since then?
Things have definitely changed over the years. I remember walking around the Assen paddock back in the day and nobody knew me. Now almost everybody does, even though I don’t know many of them! When I was a kid it was a kind of a dream, but now it’s just part of my life as a professional racer.

Round 4 of the FIM Superbike World Championship will kickstart on Friday April 15th at the TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands, with race one set to begin at 1pm local time on Saturday, while race two will take place at the same time the following day. However, Thursday afternoon once again sees the paddock being open for free to all visitors.

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情報提供元 [ Honda WorldSBK ]

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