Sofuoglu waves goodbye
Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark was extremely apologetic after he ran into Marco Melandri on the ninth lap of Sunday’s race, putting both men into the Rivazza gravel and causing a first DNF for both of them in 2018. Dutchman van der Mark, whose Saturday ride to sixth had been impressive, was tucked in behind the Ducati when his costly misjudgment came. One third place and a crash signals major frustration for Melandri, whose championship lead after Australia must feel like a distant memory as he now sits 78 points behind Jonathan Rea.
On the other Yamaha, Alex Lowes didn’t fare much better with a tenth place on Saturday and sixth on Sunday. The Englishman’s weekend started off on a sour note when he hit a false neutral and crashed at Tosa just nine minutes into Friday’s opening practice, losing crucial set-up time at a circuit where Yamaha had already expected to struggle.
In a bid to preserve tyre life, the team opted for a different electronic mapping mode but this negatively affected acceleration on corner exit, forcing the rider to try to make up for it under braking and mid-corner. No Yamaha has finished on the podium at Imola since Cal Crutchlow rode his Sterilgarda machine to third place behind Carlos Checa and Noriyuki Haga in 2010’s second race.
No Yamaha has taken an Imola podium since Crutchlow in 2010
Van der Mark was quick to try to make amends
Van der Mark tight on the tail of Marco Melandri shortly before taking him out