Eugene Laverty is enjoying shot at premier league glory
Monaco-based Ulsterman Eugene Laverty will race in motorcycling's top echelon next season, competing in MotoGP with the Spanish-based Drive M7 Aspar Honda squad.
And although the Toomebridge lad will have to wait until February to test the all-new Honda RC213V-RS, which in layman's terms is an all-singing all-dancing customer Honda, he was happy with his opening test earlier this month on the 2014 model at Valencia.
"The opening test was good," he explained. "Obviously there were some frustrations as we had bad weather on the second day.
"However, I have a good feel for the bike and I'm staying upright on it, so I had a smile on my face.
"It's good to have an understanding of everything.
"Although so far I am yet to ride the actual 2015 customer Honda, from what I have experienced with the 2014 bike, it is enjoyable to ride and I like the riding position, which felt right very early on.
"I certainly never felt like I was riding in a strange position."
Laverty had an offer from Pramac Ducati to step into MotoGP this season, but opted to spend a fourth season in World Superbike, joining Suzuki, in the hope that the Japanese manufacturer would open a door to their MotoGP project.
Despite testing the GSX-RR Suzuki, that metaphorical door was firmly shut on the 28-year-old, with Suzuki opting to sign hot young prospects Aleix Espargaro (25) and 19-year-old Maverick Vinales who finished third in this year's Moto2 class.
Laverty is well aware of the stiff task ahead in motorcycling's premier class but was blunt, albeit pragmatic, in his summing up of what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
"Really at the end of the day it doesn't matter what bike you are riding. There are two types of rider: good and bad. That is what it comes down to," was his candid response.
Having put his faith in Suzuki to deliver a potential MotoGP ride in 2015, Laverty was tasked with seeing out 2014 on a less than competitive bike.
He remained professional at all times, despite the tangible frustration of only being able to record two podiums as the incoming world number two.
The previous year with Aprilia he narrowly missed out on clinching the World Superbike Championship by just three points to Kawasaki's Tom Sykes, after scoring nine wins from a majorly impressive 19 podium finishes.
Ironically, Aprilia has also jumped across to MotoGP for 2015, which Laverty is openly pleased to see.
"I still have a great relationship with Aprilia," he said.
"The two years I had there were two of the greatest of my career.
"I'm quite happy they are coming into MotoGP as some of my friends from World Superbike are coming across with them, so no doubt we will catch up in the paddock," he added.
"World Superbikes felt like home for six years (four in Superbike and two in Supersport) which is a long time," he said.
"I obviously know a lot of people there, but in MotoGP I've had a very warm welcome and I can't wait to get started."