A trials rider that does 330km/h is a pretty rare thing! The man we are talking about is Eugene Laverty and it is as a circuit racer that he routinely achieves these sort of speeds on his way to becoming the runner up in the World Superbike 2013 in the final round at Philip Island in Australia. This excellent form carried over to the opening round of the 2014 World Championship riding the factory Suzuki 1000 GSX-R. Eugene is also pretty good on a trials bike, a sport that he practices as often as he can.
“Hello this is Pascal Couturier, I have a Shoei rider that rides in World Superbikes coming for a spot of practice at my place this weekend, are you interested in coming down?” A few days later we found ourselves in the modern surroundings of Shoei Europe based in Vulaines (77), the headquarters of this famous Japanese helmet manufacturer in Europe that has been managed since 2008 by our friend Pascal Couturier.
This is a name that may not mean too much to our younger readers but should bring back some good memories to their parents: he was amongst the best of the French riders during the golden age at the end of the 1980’s; he was also four times Japanese Champion.
His best results were as a member of the French Trial des Nations team which won the event four times when they were certainly the dominant force on the planet at the time! Now in his fifties he has chosen the area of Nemours to maintain his youthful physique by riding as often as he can. It is this and his unlimited enthusiasm for all forms of motorcycle competition that has today taken him to the post of Director of Marketing and Relations with all the contracted Shoei riders. In the showroom flooded with all the latest products, a Repsol clad mannequin that looked like one of the fastest of all the amazing riders that wears a Shoei whilst riding in Moto GP, a certain Marc Marquez, I think... Also there in the flesh was a youngster who also knows a thing or two about the tight end of the throttle cable, the most famous of the Laverty family: Eugene!
A famous family name in the crazy world of Northern Irish road racing which is perhaps the purest and most spectacular form of racing in the world along with the Isle of Man TT races. Mrs Laverty gave birth to three fine sons who were to become as seriously motorcycle addicted as their father: the eldest John ended his career in the British Championship to spend more time with his family and manage his younger brother Michael who is competing in Moto GP and the youngest, Eugene, the ‘babe’ of the family who we are meeting but nonetheless, one of the three hot favourites to lift the Superbike title! You can easily guess the subject around the family dinner table...
Before we talk of trials I will give you a short introduction of the evolution of a top rider: After several seasons of national competition on 125cc and 250cc machines he moved on to a debut season in the World Championships in the Supersport (600cc) class during 2008, he finished runner up in both 2009 and 2010, he moved up into the big time of the Superbike (1000cc) class riding the factory Aprilia RSV4. He finished a close second to Tom Sykes which also included five DNF’s as a result of technical problems during the first half of the season. Despite a stellar end of season performance he was obliged to leave the team as they preferred the Italian rider, Marco Melandri.
At the opening round of the 2014 season in Australia and in his first competitive outing on the factory Suzuki he won the first race despite only qualifying in 7th place and was leading the second race when his engine exploded! His rivals could only thank their lucky stars for this unfortunate failure... If not he would have had a handsome lead in the championship!