Eugene Laverty (Toomebridge, Northern Ireland, 1986) has taken one of the most difficult paths for a motorcycle rider: he is leaving the MotoGP paddock to return to WorldSBK. Many would be unable to give up a Ducati GP15 in the MotoGP Circus, but the #50 rider believes he is in a sweet moment, and considers that the bike is not competitive enough considering that Alvaro Bautista, who would have Been his teammate, will be riding a GP16.
He now looks forward at a new opportunity to be World Superbike Champion with Aprilia. During his previous time in WorldSBK he won ten races, and Eugene insists that now he is a better rider. He is aware that his career in MotoGP has gone fast, but he wants to make the definitive step forward.
How do you summarize your MotoGP career?
Eugene Laverty: “2016 has been a really good year overall. Comparing with 2015, we have scored many more points. Last season was disappointing, but the machinery was not at the level we expected. We started the year knowing it was going to be difficult, but that made me stronger as a rider. It’s in those situations, when you do not have a bike at the level,when you have to look inside yourself and look for the one hundred percent. That will make me stronger for the future. Sure, I would have preferred to have a better bike, just to see what I’m capable to do, but in any case, this is racing”
Just changed the bike since 2015?
“I think Valentino Rossi said that in the past, the rider had a higher percentage of importance, but unfortunately, now the bike is more than 50 percent, almost 75. If you don’t have a bike that is at the level, you can drive like God and you’re not going to win”
Have you ever regretted the paddock change?
“No, I’ve never felt regretful. There is no reason to look back, only forward. Nobody knows what would have happened if I had stayed in WorldSBK. It is always better to choose your path and then do your best. I have gained a lot, so I’m happy for the future that I have in front of me”
Are you a stronger rider now than when you left SBK?
Yes, much more. Like when I came to 250cc.
Is that improvement a natural evolution or has it been due to rival level, pressure, etc.?
“I’m pretty sure that if I had a factory bike I could be on the podium soon. When I came to my first test in Valencia, with the Honda, I was strong compared to Nicky Hayden, and he is a World Champion. I came here as a rider capable to fight to be ahead and I left it being even stronger, because I have improved all my weak points”
Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham are the new Team Aspar riders. Would you give them any advice?
“Álvaro is a fantastic rider. He’s been a World Champion, so he’s in a good position. I think he arrives to a great team and will ride a GP16, which is a fantastic bike. I’m sure he’s going to do a great job, because he has the machinery”
Has spec electronics and tyre change been a success?
“Yes, the tyre change has been very interesting. The electronics has been good, because it has lowered the performance of the factory riders a little. Also, the Open electronics were horrible. That means there is a big difference less between official bikes and satellite bikes”
Paul Denning, Pata Yamaha WSBK team manager, said that the top level of the World Superbike is the same as MotoGP. Do you agree?
“It’s not far away. I think it’s clear that the fastest rider right now is Marc Márquez, you can see it on the track. Apart from that, it’s open. Sure Marc could win in WSBK if he was there. He is an incredible rider”
Did you receive any guarantee from Aprilia before signing with them?
“That was the main thing to go there. I have been assured that I will have factory support. I know the bike, I won ten races with her, and my goal is to fight for the title”
Why did you decide to leave MotoGP? Was it your decision or the team Aspar decided it?
“It was my own decision. Because of the material. A GP15 was available with the Team Aspar, but Álvaro Bautista, who would have been my teammate, will have a GP16, so there is no way to beat a rider when you have less bike. That’s clear. I had a bike from two years ago, but there is no reason to continue here for another two years in a similar situation. I have to take steps forward”
Kawasaki and Ducati look like the rivals to beat. How much time do you think Aprilia will need to reach its level after a few months away as a factory?
“Right now I don’t know. Where is the RSV4 level is something I will try to understand when testing the bike. Some riders have ridden it since I left and they went stronger and were more comfortable on the bike. We will try to be with Kawasaki and Ducati from the first race. If we want to fight for the title, we will have to work hard during the winter”
You said your target is the crown. What are the keys to achieve it?
“We have to be very consistent, because there are many more races than in MotoGP. I think this year I was one of the three most consistent drivers, so I have to keep this dynamic in order to help me become a champion”
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