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Eugene Laverty's pang of regret after suffering another injury

By Paul Lindsay

Published 04/02/2016

Before the off: Eugene Laverty on his new Ducati before Monday’s testing accident at Sepang
Before the off: Eugene Laverty on his new Ducati before Monday’s testing accident at Sepang
Picture perfect: a print of Joey Dunlop in action
Picture perfect: A print of Jonathan Rea in action

Leaving Sepang bottom of the timesheets and nursing yet another injury, wouldn't have been how Toomebridge MotoGP star Eugene Laverty would have envisaged his opening three-day test of 2016 with the Power Electronics Aspar Ducati team.

In reality, that's how difficult it can be, racing a new motorcycle on unfamiliar tyres in the world's toughest championship against the best riders on the planet, but Eugene will do what he does best - stay cool and hopefully cover himself in glory.

Basically, everything that could go wrong, went wrong, to the extent that even though he escaped serious injury in a high speed 'off' on Monday, hospital scans showed up 10 year old fractures in his right hanf from a previous accident!

Laverty's Malaysian adventure began to go wrong after just 27 laps aboard his Desmosedici Ducati on day one at Sepang on Monday, his throttle sticking open in fourth gear, which according to MotoGP telemetry, is anything between 185/220kph.

Frightening to say the least as Laverty - who has just spent two months recovering from a broken arm, fractured vertebrae and dislocated shoulder, following a November crash at Jerez in Spain - explained afterwards. "It's just unbelievable that after spending the last couple of months recovering, we have this on the first day of the first test."

Worryingly the terrifying experience wasn't the first throttle problem he encountered during that opening day of testing at Sepang. Eugene added: "It seems we had a mechanical problem and I had to jump off the bike, under braking into turn four.

"It was a scary moment but quite lucky really because it could have been much worse. The bike went straight into the tyre wall at well over 100kph so that wasn't nice as I never like to see a bike destroyed."

The Ulsterman sat out day two at Sepang on Tuesday, nursing his injured hand in the hope of a few laps on the final day of testing yesterday.

But it wasn't to be, as further problems with the injured hand, inclement weather and more mechanical problems - this time with a slipping clutch - rendered day three all but useless, as Laverty quite rightfully lamented afterwards.

"Unfortunately it hasn't been the best test for us. I was ready to ride on Wednesday, but there was rain in the morning so we waited for the track to dry and then had a problem with the clutch, which meant that I couldn't complete a full lap."

Looking ahead to the second of three pre-season tests, scheduled for Phillip Island in Australia in two weeks time, he added: "On the positive side I was able to complete some laps and at least check my hand. At first there was some pain but the more I used the hand and kept the glove on it, the better it felt.

"At the end of the day the pain increased again so I decided to stop because I wasn't able to ride comfortably. Now I need to rest it and hopefully it will be 100 per cent for the Australia."

There's no doubting that it's going to be a tough season for the Monaco based Northern Irishman. Last year during his debut season in MotoGP, we saw brief glimpses of the brilliance that took him to the runners-up spot in the World Superbike Championship in 2013.

Sadly the playing field is not just so level in MotoGP and despite the Aspar team taking delivery of Ducati machinery for 2016 [GP 14.2 specification], breaking into the top 15 regularly is realistically going to take a mammoth effort.

Taking the factory teams out of the equation, which includes Italians Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone on top specification Ducatis [GP 16], Laverty will have five other Ducati mounted riders to contend with this season to benchmark his talent. But I'm sure he's well up for the challenge, beginning under the floodlights in Qatar on March 20.

15-time North West 200 winner Alastair Seeley will join 11-time TT winners Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop at the all-new Eikon Exhibition Centre in Lisburn today - where the trio will cut the ribbon to open this year's Blackhorse Northern Ireland Motorcycle Festival.

Four-time World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty will also be attending this year's event, which runs from today through to Sunday. The Blackburn ace will be attending the show on Saturday February 6.

Be quick on the draw to win one of these fantastic prints of Joey and Jonny

To celebrate Jonathan Rea's fantastic World Superbike title win and his awarding of the Joey Dunlop trophy as Cornmarket Irish Racer of the Year last week, we have two brilliant limited edition prints of the two great riders in action to give away to two lucky readers.

The rare prints are from the oil on canvas paintings by renowned bike artist Billy Art.

They show Jonathan in World Superbike action on his winning Kawasaki and Joey, in his iconic yellow helmet and distinctive racing number 3, on the Honda VTR-SP1 exiting the dark of Greeba Castle at the Isle of Man. The quality and detail is superb and the winners will treasure them.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply e-mail the answer to the question below to btsportsdesk@hotmail.co.uk

In which country did Jonathan Rea clinch his World Superbike title last September?

Competition closes at lunchtime on Saturday, February 6. Mark your entry with 'Bikes Competition' and include a daytime telephone number.

Check out more of Billy's motorcycle racing artwork at www.billyart.co.uk or www.facebook.com/BillyArt

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