Eugene Laverty: “I’m just looking for a winning bike”

Eugene Laverty

His first miracle was to survive almost unharmed from a crash that could have had terrible consequences. The pictures of his crash during the second race at Buriram are blurred: his Aprilia lost adherence, Eugene slipped on the asphalt and Jordi Torres couldn’t avoid running over him. Laverty was then immediately taken into surgery to fix an internal wound, and he spent some days at the hospital in Bangkok, where Pippa took good care of him. He eventually went back home walking on his own legs, among everyone’s sighs of relief.

His second miracle is ready to happen: Eugene Laverty is looking for a competitive bike to race for the 2019 WSBK Championship. Aprilia’s position in SBK is still uncertain, and there are very long queues before Ducati’s and Honda’s doors. As for Kawasaki, it was Jonathan Rea who didn’t want him to stand on his way. A diktat that says a lot regarding the Cannibal’s attitude, who seems very convinced that Eugene is one of the few riders that could actually take the World Championship away from him.

  • After the Buriram crash you came back stronger than before: how did you do it?

We were already really strong at the first two rounds but unfortunately, both the rider and the team made costly mistakes in all four of the races. After the injury, it took some time to get back to form but by Brno I knew that the podium was calling. I almost expected the podium at Laguna Seca but honestly, the podium at Misano surprised me because we expected to struggle there.

  • How do you rate your 2018 season until now?

It’s been a challenging season but I’m proud of how I’ve bounced back from a major injury. Looking back, I was really not happy with our results in Phillip Island and Buriram. However, since returning from injury I’m pleased with how we improved at every single round and took the maximum possible.

  • After the crash you started again, stronger than ever: how did you do it?

During the first two races we were very strong already, but unfortunately, both the rider and the team made some mistakes that we paid back at Phillip Island and Buriram. Brno’s podium was calling us, but we only managed to get very close to it…I was expecting the podium at Laguna Seca but the one in Misano really surprised me because I thought we would have suffered.

  • Aprilia is now back on the podium: what was the technical change?

Strangely the biggest step forward was made by going backward! We used a rear setting more in the style of 2012-13 and sure enough, we found the solution to our rear grip problems. It’s very frustrating to look back at the last 18 months because every time we have made a significant step forward was due to using information from 5-6 years ago. This should’ve been the starting point when I first rode the Aprilia again in November 2016.

  • In which areas Kawasaki, Ducati and Yamaha are now most competitive than RSV4?

It’s all about the braking zone. Every weekend we focus our work to improve in this area. Kawasaki and Ducati are the strongest in braking but on some weekends, Yamaha is able to match them. We are able to brake quite well alone but in battle, it’s very difficult for us to fight because the Aprilia does not decelerate as well as the others.

  • Win a race it is possible with RSV4 before the end of this season?

Yes, I believe that it’s possible. The next round in Portimao is a very good opportunity for us to fight for the win. I love the circuit and the Aprilia also works well there.

  • With a full factory engagement, Aprilia could return a serial winner as until 2014?

The Aprilia RSV4 is still a fantastic bike and the only major limitation is in the braking area. With the WSB regulations of previous years the Aprilia RSV4 engine decelerated better than now and so we know very well what the problem is. I believe that with full factory support the Aprilia could fight for the title again.

  • Remembering 2013, what is missing to win the World Title?

Honestly, I wasn’t a complete rider back then. I still had many flaws and even now when I look back at my data from 2013 on the computer it looks like a beginner to me! That may sound strange because in 2013 I won nine races whereas this year I have scored just two podiums but it’s the truth. I am a much better rider now but I no longer have a winning bike underneath me.

  • In an ideal world, which bike and team would you need to challenge Rea in every 2019 race?

It’s clear that the best package at the moment is the Kawasaki team as a whole.

  • Have you already received offers from some top teams?

I have spoken with every official team in World Superbikes since Imola and my request has been quite simple: Please give me a winning bike! Many doors have closed at this stage but there are still a few that remain open and I will continue to push for the opportunity to ride a winning bike again.

  • Have you seen the Ducati V4 on track? What impression did you get?

The only footage that I’ve seen of the Ducati V4 on track was from World Ducati Week and so it’s difficult to judge it at this stage.

  • If the WSBK does not offer a possibility for you (top bike/ Team) what will you do? Do you have a plan B?

I am a tenacious person and I refuse to give up. I’m very motivated to fight for the World Superbike title again so if that doesn’t happen next year then I will keep doing the best job with the machinery that I have available. 2013 has been my best season to date but I am confident that it will not be the best of my career.

  • Where are you spending these two months off?

I have spent more or less three weeks in Monaco and now I will spend a few weeks in Ireland with my family before the Portimao test in late August. The summer break is huge, but I try to ride a motorbike once a week to satisfy my cravings.

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