360 laps at Jerez for the Irishman as he jumps from SBK to MotoGP bike. The contrast in both offers clarification of what he needs for 2018
Eugene Laverty had a busy week at the Jerez test. The Aprilia WorldSBK rider spent the opening two days riding his regular mount before being drafted into MotoGP duty in place of the injured Aleix Espargaro. For Laverty, it was the first opportunity to lap on the Grand Prix machine in 12 months, and he was kept busy with five days of testing.
“It's been a busy week,” said Laverty. “I did about 360 laps this week on the Superbike and the MotoGP bikes. It was a full week. I didn't really get a chance all week to look to set my ideal laptime because I was riding Aleix' bike and he's a lot taller than me. To be fast on it I can't load the front enough because of how much of a different size we are.
“I was in a catch-22 situation all week because of it. The potential of the bike is clear but I wasn't able to attack the setting to try and make it work for me. But that's not my job as a test rider. I tried a new tire at the end to set a fast time but I made a mess of the lap! I was on course for a 1'38, but I made a mistake under braking into turn eight and that cost me a lot of time. I'm here as a test rider but I'm still a racer too and I wanted to set a fast time and show what I could do! I'm kicking myself because I made a mistake on my 'Superpole' lap.”
Despite not being able to set a time that he felt represented what he was capable of the Irishman was able to get useful information to compare his WorldSBK mount to its MotoGP counterpart. The season has been a struggle for Laverty, fourth place being his best result, with the performance of the Aprilia one of the biggest disappointments of the campaign.
“It's good for me to experience both bikes because they are the exact opposite of each other. The Superbike has so much weight on the front that I've had to adapt my riding style to have very straight arms and try and push myself as far backwards as possible. On the Superbike I want as much weight as possible off the front, whereas the MotoGP bike is the opposite. With it I had to ride with as much weight as possible on the front. The MotoGP bike is so strong on the braking and it was nice that after only a couple of laps I was able match Aleix for braking performance.
“That's important because the Superbike has been struggling in that area. We lose time in braking at the moment, because on corner entry I can't stop the bike and it stays on the front for too long and doesn't turn into the corner. With the weight staying on the front we don't have rear grip. That one problem causes three issues, and it could all be solved if we could improve the entry. We've been able to make progress with it but not enough.”
Winter testing will resume for Laverty and Aprilia at Jerez in January before moving along the Iberian Peninsula to Portimao for a further two days. Finding a solution to their front end woes will be the goal for the Milwaukee squad and for Laverty the time on the MotoGP bike could be important for finding that direction.
“I'll be back in Jerez for the Superbike test in January and then Portimao. We know what we have to do with the Superbike to get it working, and even using the GP bike teaches us a lot about what we need to do. Obviously I'd have preferred five days on the Superbike but we were always scheduled just to do two this week. There wasn't really a lot more that we could have found from this test though, maybe a few tenths, but there's more time to be found at the factory.”
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