Positive signs all around for the Irish rider after topping Free Practice in Qatar
One man shone above the rest on day one at the final round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship: Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) showed tremendous pace and even superior consistency to lead two of the three Free Practice sessions at Losail International Circuit, finishing the other just 25 thousandths of a second off the top spot.
The Irish rider has suffered more than his share of highs and lows since the return from the summer break. He clinched his first pole in five years at Portimao before being taken out two turns into Race One; then, a return to the top five in Argentina was followed by a tumble and DNF the next day. There were few if any downsides on the opening day in Qatar however, as the Aprilia rider recorded a fastest lap of 1’57.323, nearly two tenths faster than the two KRT riders and nearly half a second quicker than his teammate’s best.
Needless to say, Laverty was pleased at the end of day one: “It really has been an epic day all together, honestly. When we arrived in the first practice the track was a bit dirty and slippery, but after that we improved our lap times. To be at the top of the timesheets at the end of the first practice was a nice surprise. Then I went out in the second practice and did a long run, and I just kept doing one lap time after the other. We’ve really found something with the bike and it couldn’t come at a better time”.
That regularity in the long run is perhaps what the Aprilia rider found the most encouraging on Thursday, even over the superb one lap pace: “To be doing 1’58s consistently like I was doing… Last year we did one 1’58 in the race and then dropped down to the 1’59s. Today I was doing 7-8 laps in the low 1’58s, I couldn’t believe looking at my lap times that they weren’t dropping, I was able to do one lap time after the other. That bodes well for the race”.
How will the Aprilia rider fare in qualifying and Race One? Catch all of tomorrow’s action live and OnDemand thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.