Another piece of the MotoGP puzzle has been fixed into place. It was widely known that Eugene Laverty would be riding a production Honda for the Drive M7 Aspar team in MotoGP next year, but official confirmation of the fact only came today. Laverty is to line up alongside Nicky Hayden aboard the uprated production Honda, now called the RC213V-RS, taking the place of Hiroshi Aoyama.
Laverty's path into the Aspar team was far from straightforward. The Irishman had been in talks with Aspar, who at the time were also talking to replacement rider Leon Camier and Frenchman Loris Baz. Aspar then signed a precontract with both Baz and Laverty, subject to the condition that Aspar could not secure the services of Scott Redding. Once the deadline for Redding's signature passed, Aspar found themselves with two contracts on their hands. They quickly moved to break the contract with Baz, declaring that they had not known that the Frenchman was 1.92m, despite the fact that Baz' height is a matter of public knowledge. That left Laverty in line to take the seat at Aspar, despite having offers from Ducati to ride at Pramac, and having had talks with Forward Yamaha.
Laverty returns to the Grand Prix paddock after six years in World Supersport and World Superbike. Laverty was twice runner-up in World Supersport, to Cal Crutchlow and to Kenan Sofuoglu, as well as finishing second in the World Superbike championship to Tom Sykes. After a hard year on the Suzuki in World Superbikes, Laverty has been looking for either a more competitive ride, or a switch back to MotoGP. The Honda RC213V-RS will have a 2014 Honda RC213V engine, without the seamless gearbox, but should be a much more competitive package than the current RCV1000R.
Below is the press release from the Aspar team announcing Laverty's signing:
DRIVE M7 Aspar Team strengthen MotoGP line-up as Eugene Laverty joins for 2015
Spanish team see Ireland's former World Supersport and World Superbike runner-up as a solid bet for their latest project
Whilst the 2014 season heads into its decisive phase, the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team is already shaping its plans for 2015 and is today pleased to announce the signing of Eugene Laverty for its MotoGP project. The current World Superbike rider began his international career in Grand Prix, competing in the 250cc category in 2007 and 2008, and he has gone from strength to strength since then, meaning that the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team will now welcome a talented and experienced rider back to the paddock.
Laverty, from Toomebridge, Northern Ireland, has twice finished as runner-up in World Supersport (2009 and 2010) and was also runner-up in World Superbikes in 2013. In six seasons of production racing the 28-year-old has ridden a host of different machinery for various manufacturers, winning races for all of them, showing his great adaptability as a rider. Aside from this obvious talent, the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team sees him as a gifted rider with the potential to continue improving, and is pleased to offer him the opportunity to ride a Honda in MotoGP next season.
Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’: “Eugene Laverty is a rider we were already in contact with last year, we tried to sign him then and even though we didn't manage it at the time he is a rider we have been interested in for a long time. I think he is a rider with great potential, he has produced some incredible races in Supersport and Superbikes, and he has a lot of wins on his record with a lot of different manufacturers, which says a lot about his capacity to adapt. Maybe he hasn't had the luck that you always need to win a world title but I am sure that he will be giving 100% to the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team. I am sure he will continue to develop as a rider and he can bring a lot to this team. He is ready to make the step to MotoGP. Next year we will have a new, more competitive Honda, and I have a lot of hope invested in our MotoGP project. I am sure we will achieve great results together.”