Eugene Laverty is now confirmed to line up on the WSBK grid in 2017 with the Shaun Muir Factory backed Aprilia team, although his teammate has not yet been confirmed. I actually already knew that Eugene was off to WSBK after Assen, when two very reliable sources based in Italy told me that a deal had already been done, but we didn’t know who with: Ducati or Aprilia. When Marco was confirmed at Ducati, it became clear Eugene would be on the Aprilia. And do you know what? I CAN’T WAIT FOR HIM TO RETURN!
His performances in MotoGP have been nothing short of admirable this season, on a Ducati that is somewhat ancient compared to everything else. A stunning 4th place in Argentina and a 6th at Brno are the Irishman’s season highlights thus far. He hasn’t only improved a little bit this year either, he’s made a massive step change from back of the field runner, to top 10 challenger over the winter break. Laverty hasn’t crashed too much, but there is only so much you can do when nobody wants to sign you. Therefore, I’m happy to see Norge make the dramatic switch to WSBK.
Eugene is not in MotoGP to make numbers up; however, he isn’t in MotoGP to win races as he isn’t on a factory bike. He has the talent to win races, and I believe he could do it on the Yamaha, Ducati or Honda, as his talent really does go that far. But if that isn’t recognised then why should Eugene stick around? He doesn’t deserve to be held back just because he isn’t given the equipment needed to win each weekend.
In WSBK, the 30-year-old already knows the majority of the circuits, with the exception of Buriram and EuroSpeedway Lausitz (if they keep them on the calendar), so he will not need to learn any circuits. The Aprilia is a very fast bike and with full factory support, it could be a threat to the Kawasakis and it is that what makes Eugene a worthy WSBK rider; because finally he will be able to showcase to us all that he has endless talent on the right bike.
It’s not just the fact that Eugene is going to WSBK, it’s the fact that finally, we have a big name going over there to inject some much needed support for the series which once saw over 120,000 people pour through the gates. I’m not suggesting that Eugene will suddenly takes us back to the glory days of the 1990s and early naughties, but he will bring a battle, which will then go on to create a great spectacle, giving World Superbikes a new life.
At the end of the day, MotoGP wouldn’t do the Irishman any good by staying on a bike that is two years old. If he stayed for two seasons, then he would be 32 and without a ride come the end of his two year contract, which isn’t where he deserves or needs to be. It takes a lot of bravery to say ‘I’m not staying in MotoGP, and OK, I might not return but I want to win again’, and if WSBK is his only option then so be it. He will be a challenger for the title; runner up in 2013, race winner a year later on a very uncompetitive Suzuki, he has what it takes to make the championship exciting!
Also, Laverty’s addition to the championship adds to the raft of talent that WSBK organisers are currently lapping up. We have what looks like a double champion to be in Jonny Rea, plus a former champion in Tom Sykes; we have 2011 World Supersport champion Chaz Davies, and former MotoGP race winner and 250cc champion Marco Melandri; 2011 Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl also joins 2006 MotoGP champion and 2002 AMA Superbike champion Nicky Hayden. Pata Yamaha will have the 2013 BSB champion Alex Lowes and 2014 Supersport champion Michael Van Der Mark. Not to mention Leon Camier and his BSB title in 2009 if he stays with the MV Agusta. On top of that, if they all stay in WSBK, we have Sylvain Guintoli, the 2014 champion, Markus Reiterberger, the double IDM champion, Josh Brookes, the 2015 BSB champion and Davide Giugliano, the 2010 European Superstock 1000 title winner. When you add all of that together, plus more that I haven’t mentioned, you are looking at more than 20 titles on the grid! So, as they say, ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’. Just in this case, MotoGP’s loss is World Superbikes’ gain!
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