Ir­ish­man finds form and con­fi­dence to ex­ploit the con­di­tions and se­cure best-ever Mo­togp fin­ish

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - IN AR­GENTINA MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

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

the hell?!”’

Cal Crutchlow

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.

Not even Laverty him­self could have pre­dicted such a strong re­sult

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