Irish rider hopeful for rest of 2017 season
Making his return to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship this season, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) had a strong pace across the winter testing, and his feeling with the bike was beginning to look positive ahead of his season with the Italian manufacturer.
However, the Irishman had a tough start to his 2017 campaign as he struggles to get a set-up on the RSV4 RF he feels comfortable with. Two top ten finishes in the Yamaha Finance Australian Round seemed like a solid start for Laverty, but when followed by a 19th and 15th position finishes in Thailand, he wasn’t satisfied with his performance.
“At this stage my goal in 2017 is to improve where we are,” Laverty explains with honesty. “The first two rounds have been a big disappointment, as my goal from the off season was to be in that podium fight, aiming for race wins. We struggled with the bike initially, especially in Phillip Island for us. In Thailand there were definitely signs of progress, but it was hard in the second race because the temperature was so high.”
Despite this tough start, the Irishman is only looking ahead and hopes the return to Europe will help his British-backed squad. “Now we’re back to more normal temperatures, as well as more updates from Aprilia, I am confident we can make a good step. The second half of the season is going to be key; we will still have things to learn but in the second half I want to be consistently on the podium.”
Speaking highly of the Italian manufacturers development and machines, the former WorldSBK race winner hopes the improvements will come on his bike. “Aprilia have been working a lot over the winter on making this bike. The strength of Aprilia has been horsepower, we were always at the top of the speed charts but that hasn’t been the case in the first two rounds, so we want to make a step there. However the important thing is to improve the agility of the bike.”
Taking two more top nine positions last time out at the Pirelli Aragon Round the 30 year old deemed his machine too difficult to ride, especially with the windy conditions which whirled around the MotorLand circuit. Nevertheless, he was confident they could make some improvements at the Official one day test the Monday after the round.
“I’m more content with the test than with the race,” Laverty declares in his post-test interview. “We did a lot of laps and have worked on a lot, but there is still some work to do. We still need to understand the electronics, mainly with the engine braking, but our biggest issue was to stop the bike in the turn. We made a good step in a few areas actually so we learnt something.”
Keep up with how Laverty can improve on his pace so far in 2017 at the fourth round of the season in Holland, with all the action and interviews on the WorldSBK VideoPass, which can be found here.