As the 2010 World Superbike creeps towards its conclusion, the attention of the teams is being turned to next season. Yamaha's World Superbike squad announced the first half of their 2011 rider line up on Sunday, when they announced that Marco Melandri would be switching from MotoGP to WSBK for next season. And today, Yamaha announced that the other side of the Sterilgarda Yamaha garage will be filled by Eugene Laverty, the young Irishman who is still in the hunt for this year's World Supersport title.
Laverty has made no secret of his desire to move up to World Superbikes, though it had been widely believed that he would graduate with his current team, the Parkalgar Honda squad, who have been rumored to be moving into World Superbikes for some time. With Laverty having signed with Yamaha, doubts have arisen over the prospects of the Parkalgar team - managed by the outspoken Simon Buckmaster - making the move up to WSBK for 2011.
The Yamaha press release is shown below:
Yamaha signs Eugene Laverty to complete 2011 World Superbike Team
Yamaha has signed a contract with current World Supersport title contender Eugene Laverty to join the Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team on the YZF-R1 alongside MotoGP rider Marco Melandri for the 2011 season. 24 yr old Laverty from Northern Ireland is a proven racer, having come second to Yamaha's reigning World Supersport Champion Cal Crutchlow in the 2009 championship with four race wins. He is currently just 12 points behind the lead in the current standings with two further rounds to go having taken seven race wins and five pole position starts so far this season.
Laverty is no stranger to Yamaha, taking time out from the 250cc MotoGP Championship to enjoy two wild card World Supersport rides in 2008 in place of injured rider Fabien Foret. The young rider adapted quickly, scoring an impressive podium finish with third in his second outing at Vallelunga.
"It's great to have a contract signed at this stage while still fighting for the title in the Supersport class. I desperately want to win this year before moving on," said Eugene Laverty. "When I rode the Yamaha YZF-R6 in World Supersport in 2008 I was having a tough time in 250s, it's nice that Yamaha brought me to the fore and are now giving me the opportunity within superbike. Ben Spies winning the championship in 2009 and Cal Crutchlow now stepping up and winning races shows the bike and team are more than capable so the rest is up to me. I think with the team support and a good testing schedule we can start the 2011 championship ready to be competitive from the first race and be on the podium as early as possible. Having a teammate like Marco Melandri is great, he has a wealth of experience to learn from so I'm going to enjoy riding with him."
"We've been very impressed with Eugene in the World Supersport Championship," said Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Manager Laurens Klein Koerkamp. "He is a very talented racer who has shown great dedication to training, is focussed on victory and we know he's a great person to work with. We have proved with Cal Crutchlow that we have the facility to bring young riders through from World Supersport, continue to nurture and develop them in World Superbike and provide them with further opportunities in MotoGP if the situation is right. We look forward to working with Eugene and believe he has the talent to continue through with Yamaha into the future."