With Eugene Laverty recently on the receiving end of bad news that he would not be racing for the SMR team again in WorldSBK 2019 he showed his credentials at the end of the first day at Losail by going 0.18 seconds faster than next best man Jonathan Rea (KRT).
And Laverty was made all the more confident because his pace was good for more than one lap, even at the early stages of race weekend. “In FP2 I did seven fliers altogether and got a little bit faster at the end; low 1’58s,” said Laverty, who knows his Aprilia is a good tool to unlock pace with at Losail.
“The Aprilia has always been good here, if you think back to 2015. OK, it was a different bike, but Haslam and Torres won the two races. Our problem is that last year we had a rear tyre that we could not make work. Not a problem with the tyre but we could not make our bike push on the tyre. Laguna and Misano this year - that was our breakthrough with how to utilise the tyre. So coming here, this bike works so well.”
Why the Aprilia works so well in the desert is another thing Laverty has already worked out on his sign off weekend from SMR. “The reason for me that it works is because it is so flat and smooth, and then in the braking… once I start to lean in and I can decelerate the bike and stop it. That has always been the area on the Aprilia where I struggle, compared to the Kawasaki. But here, it allows me to decelerate with the place being flat.”
Laverty had his manager and brother John with him in Qatar, and had some meetings already done and more lined up with potential employers. But time and opportunities are running out, and not just for Laverty.
“Hopefully this weekend there will be something, I am talking to everyone,” said Laverty.
Losing his ride just as it was all coming together was a difficult thing to take. “It came as a shock. You never discount the possibility of it. Some doors are closed but there might still be a few open. There has never been an end of season quite like this with so many top riders without jobs.”