Ambitious Eugene Laverty is planning a bright 2016
Eugene Laverty will make his final appearance on Open class Honda machinery on Sunday in the final round of this year's MotoGP World Championship at Valencia in Spain. And, as the Toomebridge man admitted, "the end can't come soon enough".
"I've never been so ready to finish a season," said Laverty, who has recorded four point-scoring finishes during his rookie season in MotoGP - a disappointment in his book.
More importantly, his hard-fought 14th place at Aragon in Spain afforded him a debut Open class victory, which more than attributed to his contract approval for 2016.
Next season the 29-year-old, who is based in Monaco, will remain in the Aspar Racing Team but the switch to Ducati power should give him a better opportunity to get among the points on a regular basis.
Reflecting on the season, Laverty said: "This year has been disappointing as we expected more from the Open class Honda. My team-mate Nicky Hayden was doing similar lap times in 2014, so we are all looking forward to the new bike."
With Hayden moving to World Superbike to ride Ten Kate Honda machinery in 2016, Laverty's team-mate next term in the Aspar Ducati set-up will be Yonny Hernandez.
With two years' experience already under his belt on Ducati machinery, the Colombian should bring some much needed impetus to the Aspar team, which will be his second stint in MotoGP alongside a Toomebridge native.
In 2013 it was Michael Laverty who rode alongside Hernandez, in Paul Bird's PBM Motorsport squad, but the youngest of the Laverty clan is focused on his own goals for 2016.
"The 14.2 Ducati finished sixth last time out and that's a positive," said Eugene of the second generation 2014 Ducati Corse MotoGP bike that he will ride next season.
"With no Open class in 2016 and the introduction of Michelin tyres, my goal is not to be scrapping for points on four or five occasions, but to be targeting regular top 10 finishes."
Speaking of the various conjectures concerning him in WSB, he explained: "There were some tempting and very interesting offers on the table for 2016 in the World Superbike series, but I had a two-year deal here at Aspar and if the team was going to enter again - which is now the case - I wanted to stay and honour that."
Paying tribute to the production based series, he added: "Since I left WSB, there has been an influx of interest again from manufacturers like Yamaha and BMW, which is great for the series.
"I spoke to a lot of teams and manufacturers but MotoGP is where I want to be for now.
"I've worked with Gigi Dall'Igna (Ducati Corse's new General Manager) before (at Aprilia in World Superbike) and for me that's very inspiring.
"Gigi rewards his riders if they perform well, so if I can get the results on the Aspar Ducati next season, then who knows what the future will bring."
Laverty's fiancée Pippa has been meticulously planning their upcoming December wedding, but it's something Eugene hopes he can now enjoy and focus on after the pressure of completing his rookie season in the premier class.
"She has been planning the wedding at home while I have been sitting dejected with our performances this season and dealing with injuries," concluded Laverty, who will have his friend Stephen Thompson, who was seriously injured at this year's NW200, as his guest in Valencia.
"Now hopefully I can get back to feeling good."