Eugene Laverty has seen huge improvements with his WorldSBK BMW and is making progress as he gears up for another WorldSBK test at Barcelona this weekend.
Two days at Misano World Circuit last week, alongside fellow M1000RR riders Loris Baz and Scott Redding - after Michael van der Mark fractured his leg in a mountain bike accident - leaves Laverty confident of improvements ahead of the upcoming two at Barcelona-Catalunya.
“The main thing was the new engine, we've been waiting a while for that and that was golden from the first laps,” Laverty told Bikesportnews.com before he heads to Spain for the next stage of pre-season preparation.
“Just to feel how strong the engine was off the bottom, and also top end as the thing just keeps on going. That gives us a chance in battle.
“The other thing was trying to improve the turning of the bike mid-corner because that's something that I really struggled with at Jerez, which we did find on the afternoon of day two. I felt a lot more comfortable on the bike, because I'm a smaller rider compared to the other three so obviously need something different to them.”
One thing the Northern Irish rider is still struggling with is trail braking, an issue he’s faced since joining the German manufacturer in 2020.
“That issue's been there since the very first time I rode the bike, the first five laps that was a comment and that's not an area we've been able to make any inroads on at all,” he confirmed. “It’s quite baffling. To the point that I've almost accepted that it's on the back burner for now, I really don't know how to improve that. The bike doesn't stop on final entry when you lean into the corner, especially when you start to lean in you expect the bike to decelerate with the rear tyre and it doesn’t.
“It doesn't get the extra drag of any previous bike that I've ridden. When you're braking up right, you're braking with the front wheel only. As you can see, the likes of Johnny and Toprak the rear wheel's in the sky so when you're straight up and down you're asking a lot from the front wheel but once you start to get that 10 degrees lean angle, from there, the rear shock is just sinking down in and you're getting more and more rear load. That’s where usually a bike then also gets some extra drag from the rear wheel and I've never felt that. So I want to try and crack that because that's a big thing for racing and battle, where you need that extra drag to be able to stop the bike and turn.”
One positive step expressed across the BMW fraternity this winter is electronics.
“Yeah, that was good step forward now we're all using a similar strategy,” Laverty confirmed. “Because they got some upgrades for traction control. It will be more important in Barcelona, because in Misano it was such high grip that it's not as critical there but somewhere like Barcelona where it's really low grip, I think the new traction control strategy will be really beneficial towards the end of races. So that will be good thing to retest again in Barcelona, but the initial feelings of it was good.
“That's always my area that I'm planning to improve upon,” he said retuning to the final entry issue. “But with Barcelona being the complete opposite - Misano is probably the highest grip track on the calendar, Barcelona is probably the lowest grip - so try and do some long runs and see how the bike does fare in terms of rear grip later on in the race. That's what we've got to see. Misano felt good, but gotta bear in mind some of the things that we were doing there may not work in Catalunya.
“The bike felt comfortable. After Jerez, not sure if I should say that officially or not, but I wasn't very content on the bike. I didn't go into Christmas happy because we struggled over the course of the three days.
“From day one to day three we never really made any real headway. Whereas Misano was only two days and right after lunch on day two, was where we made a big step forward and I was pretty happy with the pace. I don't know, maybe Bautista was putting in some pretty strong laps but I was doing some long runs in around ’35.0 which is pretty strong as well so I was content at that.
We were all within bang on the same tenth. I think Loris and I had a bit more pace than Scott. Scot got that one lap in. But Loris is looking very good on the bike and after lunchtime on day two, I was pretty strong as well.”