A fac­tory Aprilia and top Bri­tish team tempted Ir­ish­man away from GPS

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON IN CZECH REPUB­LIC MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

Eu­gene Laverty will make his re­turn to the World Su­per­bike cham­pi­onship in 2017 af­ter sign­ing a deal to race in an all-new fac­tory Aprilia squad run by the Bri­tish Shaun Muir Rac­ing team.

Fol­low­ing his im­pres­sive sixth place fin­ish in the Brno Mo­togp race, Laverty con­firmed to MCN that he will be re­turn­ing to the man­u­fac­turer that he so nearly clinched the WSB 2013 ti­tle with.

“I’ve been sizing up both pad­docks, but the ma­chin­ery was what tipped the bal­ance. It’s what I’ve al­ways based my de­ci­sions on, and you should al­ways be on equal bikes to your team-mate. If one’s a year older, some peo­ple don’t re­alise that, and as a racer you can’t give away that ad­van­tage.

“The fact that there was a good op­tion on the ta­ble in WSB helped too, and I had to size the two op­tions up. The goal in Mo­togp would be to keep step­ping for­ward, but I was still go­ing to be on a two-year-old bike in 2017.

“That’s when I started se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing WSB, and then the op­por­tu­nity came up to re­turn on my old bike again! I won nine races on it and fin­ished sec­ond in the cham­pi­onship in my last year and that means I can pick up where I left off and go there fight­ing for a world ti­tle.”

And while it may have been a dif­fi­cult de­but year in the World Su­per­bike pad­dock for SMR af­ter their BSB suc­cess with Josh Brookes in 2015, Laverty is cer­tain that with the right com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors that they can chal­lenge for the ti­tle – a be­lief re­in­forced by some in­side knowl­edge!

“Bri­tish cham­pi­onship, world cham­pi­onship – wher­ever it is, to win ti­tles you have to be able to ar­rive at those rounds as a com­plete team. It takes struc­ture and key per­son­nel in place to do that, and Shaun Muir has done it al­ready with two dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers.

“It helps that my brother Michael used to race for Shaun too – he was able to re­it­er­ate just how tight a ship he runs. I’ve got a lot of con­fi­dence in him and the team – and jump­ing ma­chin­ery to get a race-win­ning pack­age un­der his rider shows that he’s keen to win.

“The aim for Phillip Is­land will be to win, but what I’ve learned in years past is that my mis­take was of­ten not be­ing will­ing to set­tle. I’ve learned that in GP when the race win wasn’t

avail­able – my men­tal­ity has changed, and that’s what it takes to win ti­tles. It’s what Jonathan Rea did last year, on the podium at ev­ery round up un­til he won the ti­tle.

“2017 World Su­per­bike cham­pion would be nice, but Jonathan Rea will likely be the 2016 cham­pion, and he’s start­ing to gather mo­men­tum that could be hard to stop. I’m not un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the chal­lenge at all, be­cause the op­po­si­tion is fierce at the minute.”

‘I fin­ished sec­ond in my last year and that means I can pick up where I left off and go there fight­ing for a ti­tle’ EU­GENE LAVERTY

Laverty was tempted back to WSB by full-spec Aprilia ma­chin­ery and the well-run SMR team

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