Irish rider reviews his return to the WorldSBK Championship
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) put an end to his two year MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship hiatus in 2017, following two seasons in MotoGP™. Coming back into the paddock, the Irish rider has had a steady start to his return with the British-based squad but is beginning to see an improvement with his pace on the RSV4 RF.
Sitting in the top ten in the championship standings, Laverty has been building on his pace throughout 2017 but is yet to secure that all important podium finish. Speaking to WorldSBK.com, the 31 year old assesses his return to the paddock.
When you look at the championship as a whole, how does it compare to 2014?
“It’s impressive, especially when you look at the riding. As with any championship the key is getting the most out of the tyre, it doesn’t matter if you’re on an Aprilia, Ducati, Kawasaki. Over the past few years Pirelli have improved the tyres, but I also think the riders and manufacturers have been working well to get the most out of the front tyre. They have worked well with getting the most out of the front tyre in corner entry, as well being able to maintain the pace with the rear during the race.
In the past this used to be a strength of the Aprilia - where the bike used to maintain the tyre better than anybody. Not everybody looked after the tyre too well, so we suddenly don’t have that advantage during the races on others. So, you’ve got to give credit to the likes of Chaz, Johnny and Tom what they’ve done. The pace has moved on a lot because those guys were pushing each other.”
What do you think about the machinery?
“There’s been a lot of talk about changing regulations, if they change it, okay, but it’s not something I’m crying out for. I believe that with the Aprilia and some of the other manufacturers, they’ve got the bike to be competitive, it just requires hard work to be put in, but this is hard on both time and money. But that’s what you’ve got to do if you want to win, it’s up to the rest of us to raise our game.”
What have you thought of the grid reshuffle?
“It’s been pretty good for us. For the likes of me, who if you’re finishing behind sixth position and then you suddenly get a better grid slot, it’s great so I like it. Again those guys worked hard in the winter on their starts and cut through the pack, so in race two you can see sometimes Rea and Sykes are already in the first couple of positions, and that’s really impressive. It’s worked well for me because I get a better grid start, but it’s still hard to keep them guys behind you.”
When you look at the championship for the last three years it’s mainly been Davies against Rea. What do you see as the big differences between those two guys?
“Johnny is on the strongest bike and he’s making the most of it. That’s why he rides the first three or four rounds strong and he ends up winning the championship in the first three or four rounds, because he then nurses it home. So, Chaz is often having to over-ride the bike to try and chase down the Kawasaki, which is difficult. There isn’t much to split the two riders, but I think the Kawasaki is the strongest bike on the grid right now. So when you’ve got something in reserve like Johnny has, it’s hard to beat a guy like that.”
Follow Laverty’s progress in the final two rounds of the World Superbike championship as he edges closer to podium pace, all with the WorldSBK VideoPass.