LAVERTY AND APRILIA TO GATECRASH PARTY
Ex-motogp man has the form and motivation to take the fight to Rea, Sykes and Davies
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’