Ex-motogp man has the form and mo­ti­va­tion to take the fight to Rea, Sykes and Davies

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - OLI RUSHBY MCN BSB REPORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­

World Su­per­bike may have been a Kawasaki and Ducati playground for the last two sea­sons but one man hop­ing to change that this year is 2013 series run­ner-up Eugene Laverty, who re­turns to WSB af­ter two sea­sons in Motogp Grand Prix.

The Ir­ish­man will be re­united with Aprilia’s for­mi­da­ble RSV4, with which he took nine race vic­to­ries on his way to sec­ond in 2013. The 30-year-old will be head­ing up the Bri­tish-run Mil­wau­kee team with full fac­tory sup­port from the Aprilia fac­tory in Noale.

“We ex­pect to be strong be­cause it’s not like I’m hop­ping on a new bike,” ex­plained Laverty who spent two sea­sons on the bike along­side Max Bi­aggi in 2012 and Syl­vain Guin­toli in 2013.

“I was with Aprilia for two years and in year two we won a load of races and fought for the cham­pi­onship.”

De­spite a few is­sues with chatter in test­ing, Laverty is con­fi­dent of tak­ing the fight to ti­tle favourites Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies.

“We are chal­lengers, def­i­nitely,” he


con­tin­ued. “We have the po­ten­tial with this bike – it was there in 2013 then we had a strong year with Syl­vain Guin­toli and Marco Me­landri the year af­ter. It’s ca­pa­ble but the rea­son Kawasaki and Ducati are such a force is that they’ve kept the same rid­ers year af­ter year.”

One thing Laverty is hop­ing will play into his hands as the sea­son gets un­der­way at Phillip Is­land is his form at the Aus­tralian track, where he has won races with both Suzuki and Aprilia.

“I know it’ll be hard at the start of the sea­son as we’re all play­ing catchup, but the pos­i­tive thing for me is that the sea­son starts at one of the strong­est tracks for both me and the bike.”

How­ever, Laverty is un­der no il­lu­sion about how hard fight­ing at the front has be­come in WSB th­ese days. Rea’s sheer con­sis­tency has seen him un­beat­able for the last two sea­sons.

“An off day for Jonny in the past two years has been third, so you need to be get­ting the big points to beat him. The depth of the field is strong, so you can eas­ily find your­self out of the top six if you’re not care­ful.”

Team boss Muir: ‘We have the sup­port to win’

Mil­wau­kee Aprilia team boss Shaun Muir has said he is con­fi­dent his team can now battle at the front thanks to the fac­tory sup­port from Aprilia.

The squad strug­gled with BMW ma­chin­ery and a lack of sup­port in 2016, and Muir ad­mits they were naïve to think they could fight for the ti­tle.

He said: “This year we’ve got en­gi­neers from Aprilia work­ing on teleme­try and the chas­sis. Al­ready in test­ing we’ve had key fig­ures from Aprilia here in­clud­ing race boss Ro­mano Albe­siano.” MCN says: Laverty is a class act and a proven WSB win­ner on an Aprilia. He won’t have lost any of his drive from two years in Motogp and will be ar­guably even more fired up now he has the po­ten­tial to win.

‘ The sea­son starts at one of the strong­est tracks for me and the bike’

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