Irish star gearing up for Team Go Eleven debut at Jerez test
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship grid has undergone a massive shake-up ahead of the 2019 season, with new and returning names featured in the WorldSBK paddock as well as long-time contenders looking for success on debuting machines. Multiple race winner Eugene Laverty belongs to this second group of riders, as he seeks a return to the top step of the podium with Team Go Eleven.
When the lights go out for Race One at Phillip Island on February 23rd, it will have been exactly five years since we last heard the Irish national anthem boom out at the end of a WorldSBK event. Then, a 27-year-old Laverty, who had ended the season before as runner-up to Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes, took a commanding win over the pair of Aprilia bikes – the machine he claimed eight wins with a year prior.
This was the Irishman’s first race on the Suzuki, as well as the last time he jumped onto a completely unfamiliar machine in WorldSBK. Since then, a two-year stint in MotoGP™ as well as a return to SBK® and Aprilia have come and gone, with just two podiums and one pole position – both achieved last season – to show for it. Needless to say, Laverty – now 32 – is hungrier than ever for a competitive machine.
And this may be the season he gets it. Team Go Eleven have shown great consistency in the past years and with the structure taking on the blazing Ducati V4 R for 2019 – with additional support from the Italian manufacturer – the stage is set for both sides of this exciting new partnership to return to winning ways.
But it’s still early days in the 2019 season, so the Irish rider will be rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty with back-to-back testing at Jerez and Portimao this week. The Andalusian racetrack – which returns to the WorldSBK race calendar this season – will witness Laverty’s first laps on the V4 R, alongside 15 other riders from the premier class.
Team Go Eleven’s new recruit is not hiding his excitement ahead of Wednesday’s debut: “I’ve been counting down the days until my first ride on the new V4 Ducati and finally the day has arrived. I’m excited to try the bike for the first time but also to begin working with Team Go Eleven at the track”.
As is the case in early season testing, making a good first impression on the timesheets will be important, but nowhere near as much as identifying any potential weaknesses early on: “My aim is to understand the potential of the bike and that will allow me to set a clear objective for the season ahead”.
Follow the first tests of 2019 and catch all the riders first impressions thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.