LAVERTY TAKES SHOCK FOURTH
Irishman finds form and confidence to exploit the conditions and secure best-ever Motogp finish
After a winter testing season marred by confidence-sapping crashes and injury, Eugene Laverty showed his resolve, keeping his head when others didn’t to secure a stunning fourth place finish in Argentina.
The 29-year-old Irishman managed the conditions perfectly and highlighted just how far he has come despite the struggles he’s had throughout the transition from Honda to Ducati machinery since the end of 2015.
During pre-season testing it looked like the entire season could be a writeoff for Laverty, as he languished at the bottom of the timesheets while never really looking comfortable on the bike.
But with a new specification engine bringing him to the level of the other GP14.2 machines ahead of the opening race in Qatar, it’s been big steps forward since for the former WSB race winner.
“Confidence was very low at the start of the year and I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike, so to turn it around so quickly is incredible. The big step was Saturday in Qatar – but we know now I had a different engine in testing and my head was against the wall. But that’s why we’re able to make big steps now, the potential has been there, but now we’re finding it.
“There’s a lot of Ducatis out there, and it’s not until the first race that you start using your engine allocation. There are a lot of bikes to cater for, so we had to use what we had. It served its purpose until I started to push for a lap time and the bike felt 20kg heavier and 20cm longer. It was a relief when I finally rode the final version!”
Since then, though, it’s been nothing but progress for Laverty. Taking a career best twelfth in the opening race at Losail, he jokingly admitted to MCN that even he didn’t quite believe where he had finished in the aftermath of Sunday’s chaotic race.
“Espargaro and Barbera hit each other on the last lap and went off the track, and by the time they re-joined I was in the middle of them. I was able to get past Barbera, but then I got caught up in the middle of the last lap chaos – I didn’t know what position I was in. I didn’t do the maths in my head, and looked around to see the big screen – and when it said P4 I thought ‘what the hell?!’”
And Laverty is adamant that the best is still to come: “We improved the feeling on Saturday again with the front. I wasn’t happy with it on Friday, and we did what we did in Qatar and made a big step forwards. That’s progress, but you could still see in the race that I have no rear grip compared to the others.”
‘When it said P4 on the big screen I thought “what
Was left fuming after Sunday’s race, crashing out not once but twice – and holding his hands up afterwards to admit that he had cost himself a top five result for the second race in a row. Following Lorenzo into turn one at the end of lap one, he left his braking too late, crashing and ruining any hopes of making a mark on the race – only to crash again in the closing stages after working his way back into the points.