Eugene Laverty Rejects BMW For Aprilia For 2012

After Yamaha's shock announcement that they will be pulling out of World Superbikes at the end of this season, their impressive rider pairing became World Superbike's hottest properties. Marco Melandri soon found a seat alongside Leon Haslam at BMW, but the fate of Eugene Laverty was still uncertain. For a while, it looked as if the Irishman could see a return to the MotoGP paddock, Laverty holding extensive talks with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, but in the end, team boss Herve Poncharal elected to sign Andrea Dovizioso, preferring the Italian's proven track record over Laverty's lack of experience with the Bridgestone tires that determine success in MotoGP.

Laverty still had a number of options in the World Superbike paddock, and GPOne.com and Motosprint are reporting that the Irishman has reached an agreement with Aprilia for 2012. There is some uncertainty as to exactly where Laverty will be placed; though he is reported to have guarantees of factory equipment, Aprilia WSBK chief Gigi Dall'Igna has yet to decide whether the factory Aprilia team will consist of just Max Biaggi, or whether Laverty will line up alongside the Italian veteran. According to GPOne.com, Dall'Igna's goal is to have four Aprilia RSV4s on the grid next season, with either one or two bikes in the factory team and a bike for the Pata squad. GPOne is also reporting that Paul Bird, currently running the factory Kawasaki squad in WSBK, could also be interested in fielding one or two Aprilias in World Superbikes for 2012, including a slot for Yorkshireman Tom Sykes, but that would appear to be contradicted by Bird's previous statements to top UK racing news site Bikesportnews.com, whom he had told that he was "finished with World Superbikes" and that he was exploring his options as a CRT entry in MotoGP for 2012.

Aprilia was one of two options which Laverty had to choose from, according to Motosprint. The satellite BMW Italia squad had offered the Irishman a significant sum - some 300,000 euros, according to the Italian magazine - to ride a BMW S1000RR next season, but Laverty appears instead to have gone for the guarantee of factory support. The bike itself may also suit Laverty better: the Aprilia RSV4 is basically a MotoGP machine for the street, and the high-corner-speed style required to make it go fast is something Laverty learned during his five years on 125 and 250 Grand Prix machinery.

The signing of Laverty leaves current Aprilia rider Leon Camier out in the cold. It is not yet known where Camier will end up next season, but his performance over the past two season should have been enough to convince somebody in the WSBK paddock that he deserves to stay.

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Comments

My sources indicated that if Eugene didn't go to BMW Italia, he would end up on a PBM Aprilia, so looks like this is what's happening.

If so, I guess that the cost and indeed the complexity of fielding a CRT team in MotoGP was beyond the current capabilities of Birdy.

I hope Eugene gets good support, he's a hell of a rider and a genuine nice guy and it would be a real shame to see him founder in a team that couldn't give him what he needed.

If so, I guess that the cost and indeed the complexity of fielding a CRT team in MotoGP was beyond the current capabilities of Birdy.

If that's true, then there goes Dorna's whole reasoning behind the CRT series (at least at the outset to so far) when even a veteran team like Paul Bird balks at the price.

On another topic, The bike itself may also suit Laverty better: the Aprilia RSV4 is basically a MotoGP machine for the street, and the high-corner-speed style required to make it go fast is something Laverty learned during his five years on 125 and 250 Grand Prix machinery.

If the Aprilia is described in this manner, how should the BMW S1000RR be described? Besides being only in it's second year of racing, is there anything really holding the BMW back? Electronics? Teething issues?

I don't think the BMW is going to move to the front, Melandri or no. The electronics package is not competitive. I'm all for trying new things but BMW has got to be questioning their hubris/arrogance/'innovation' by now. Especially after Rea got a hold of a ride by wire system and has shown terrific speed on a bike that had nothing on the Duc/Aprilia/Yamaha earlier in the season.

A further issue with the BMW electronics is the way the traction control uses up the tires. Melandri can help them with setup but if the basic principles - and by this I mean how the power is applied to the ground - of the TC aren't working then I doubt he will be able to offer much insight besides "Magnetti Marelli does it this way." I would expect that BMW already knows what MM are doing.
One man's opinion. : )

If that really is the choice he made and where he'll end up. The RSV4 is by far the best overall bike on the grid and it's a proven winner. The Ducati is always good, but there's still a huge question mark over that new chassis, though that's only for 2013. The BMW? A very good bike in Super Stock form, but in SBK guise still a few races away from being fully competitive in this field. The signing of Melandri (with vast Magneti Marelli set-up experience) was a good move from the factory to speed up development of their own electronics system. They can at least learn some things they are doing wrong in comparison, right?

Eugene is definitely better off on an Aprilla though. It's small, likes corner speed, and makes big power. This could just be the extra something that pushes Eugene to the level we all know he is capable of...

I see big thinks for the young Irishman in 2012.

I think BMW have been racing WSBK for 3 years so far, they seem to have gone backwards since Mr Tardozzi? was shown the door. Looks like the Germans insist on doing things their way or no way at all,i wonder if they have tested Marelli systems in private?? Roll on phillip island this weekend.

Engineers are stubborn, and German ones doubly so. I remember working for VW and having an engineer tell us in a meeting that the car was not the problem, we were the problem. I think the issue in the BMW garage may be similar to the issues Ducati faced in GP; the engineers insist that their ideas are fine, and are forcing the guys in the garage to find a way to make them work. Of course, my alternate theory (and hope) is that they are working feverishly on developing their own competing system, and they are simply experiencing the teething issues associating with developing a totally new system to compete with well established front runners in an arena where small differences in performance can make or break a team. Just look at how tight the whole field usually is in qualifying. It is not uncommon to have a dozen riders within one second. As has been pointed out by riders like Spies, on a superbike riders are so close because it is easy to reach the limit of the tires and bike; from there it is down to the rider to best manage things. In that kind of situation where you are always at or beyond the limit of the tires it may be very difficult to glean the knowledge necessary to take those final steps in electronic controls. Getting there is easy, developing the level of finesse enjoyed by the more experienced competitors in their control systems not so much.

Which is why it is so perplexing that BMW goes with Melandri. If the bike isn't right, Marco isn't going fast. And the BMW clearly isn't right.

Anyway, good for Laverty. He'll take Biaggi apart next year.

I think the Honda will be too cramped for Camier. The Aprilia may look smaller because of its styling and narrow build, but I'm pretty sure there's more room for legs and other bodyparts than on the Honda. On the standard bikes, this is definately the case.

I really hope Camier will stay on an Aprilia V4, if only because it looks so damn good. With four Aprilias with factory support that should be possible.