A rear tyre failure on lap 15 of the first race of the Rimini World Superbike round denied Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark a maiden Yamaha podium finish.
Van der Mark made a blinding start from fifth on the grid and was up to second by the first corner, the Dutchman proceeding to take the lead away from Kawasaki’s Jonahan Rea on the second lap.
Happy with his YZF-R1 after a geometry change in third practice, van der Mark was able to run at the front of the pack for much of the 21-lap contest, holding an advantage of over a second at one stage.
By lap 13, Rea had began to reel in the Yamaha rider, and at the start of the 15th lap the gap between them had been slashed to just 0.4 seconds.
Van der Mark was flicked into retirement at Turn 13 when his rear wheel suddenly popped off the rim, an accident which left him bemused and frustrated.
“Towards the end, I was still doing the same lap times and Jonathan was starting to close in,” van der Mark explained.
“Then, for no reason, I lost the rear in a really fast corner. I don’t know what happened, but for sure it was not my fault and we have to find out what the cause of the crash was.
“I am happy because we had a really strong race, but I am very disappointed as this should have been my first podium, or even victory, for Yamaha.”
This is the second rear tyre failure in as many rounds, with Kawasaki’s Rea crashing out of second in the opening race at Donington Park as the result of a faulty tyre.
Pirelli later found a hole in the left side of van der Mark’s standard SC0 tyre, but they are yet to fully ascertain how it got there. The Italian tyre manufacturer did, however, confirm that the damage to van der Mark’s tyre was different to that found on Rea’s development SC0 at Donington.
“Just a few hours after the race, the elements we have available are obviously not enough to allow us to provide a structured and complete explanation of what happened to Michael van der Mark’s rear tyre,” Pirelli boss Georgio Barbier told bikesportnews.com.
“On-site, the only thing we can do, and we have done, is an analysis with the naked eye.
“From this analysis, which we shared with Yamaha, we found that there is a hole on the left side of the tyre.
“This is completely different damage from what was found on Jonathan Rea’s tyre, with it being understood that these are also two different solutions.
“It is obviously of primary interest to us to understand what caused this damage to the tyres, so over the coming hours and days we will be conducting the appropriate in-depth investigations for this case in our laboratories.”