Key update gives Eugene Laverty the quality to click up the gears
Toomebridge's MotoGP star Eugene Laverty will not only be looking to score points for the fourth consecutive round at Assen in the Netherlands this weekend, but the Aspar Honda rider must also focus on topping the Open Class, having tasted victory at the Dutch circuit previously in the World Superbike and Supersport championships.
Having received advanced parts for his Open Class Honda, the Monaco-based Ulsterman said of his round eight aspirations at 'The Cathedral of motorcycling': "Following three unfamiliar circuits, I'm excited to return to a track that I know well.
"I've won races at Assen in both the World Supersport and Superbike championships, so I'll be gunning for a top finish there in MotoGP."
The Assen round is one of the most iconic dates on the MotoGP calendar, with the famous TT Circuit hosting the only Saturday race in its traditional slot at the end of June each year.
"We found our way again at the previous round in Barcelona and I'm feeling full of confidence again," said Laverty, who received an updated factory swingarm for his machine, which should now see him challenge on the fringes of the top 10 in Saturday's premier class race.
"The Aspar team continue to support me fully and I'm delighted to say Honda have stepped in to help us move forward, which I'm extremely grateful for. Everything's really starting to come together now."
At the business end of the MotoGP class, Movistar Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo will arrive in the Netherlands in top form after picking up his fourth straight win last time out in Barcelona.
The Mallorcan is still second in the current championship standings, albeit just a solitary point behind team-mate Valentino Rossi, and barring a dramatic turnaround in form and fortune, it seems as though the title fight will be between the pair from now until the end of the season.
Last weekend Laverty had a bit of a busman's holiday, when he attended the Misano round of the World Superbike Championship. He was there to catch up with his former team-mates and paddock contacts, which I'm sure stirred a little bit of emotion from the former World Superbike number two, who is now in the MotoGP lion's den battling at the lower end of the food chain.
"I really enjoyed catching up with everyone again in Misano and I was made to feel very welcome by my former team Voltcom Crescent Suzuki," said Laverty of the British based team he rode for last season.
"Alex Lowes has become a good friend and his twin brother Sam was also there in support, so I spent most of the weekend in Alex's corner."
Giving credit to his former rival Jonathan Rea, who barring a major disaster will be crowned 2015 World Superbike Champion, Laverty said: "The level of the riders is still as high as ever in WSB, which makes it even more impressive to see Jonny Rea running away with it.
"I did enjoy watching the boys on track for a little while but once those lights went out I wanted to be out there in the mix."
Let's hope the updates to Laverty's Power Electronics Honda, majoring on the gifted swingarm from HRC - which his team-mate and former world champion Nicky Hayden has had for a few rounds - will finally allow him to show his full potential in the highest echelon of our sport.