Michael Laverty to seize big chance
Michael Laverty completed his first day of testing with the all-new McAMS Yamaha team at Cartagena yesterday in Spain and enjoyed being back on the latest configuration of the Japanese manufacturer's R1 - which took Aussie Josh Brookes to the British Superbike title in 2015.
The team is owned by Prodigy front man Keith Flint and 35-year-old Laverty is confident that this could potentially be his best year ever in the British Superbike Championship aboard the Yamaha UK supported R1-M.
"Yeah I'm really enjoying riding the new Yamaha even though on day one it's all about getting comfortable on the bike, adjusting levers and footpeg positions," said Laverty, who will take in his eighth season in the British Superbike Championship in 2017.
"I don't want to talk it up too much at this stage, as it's a tough championship, but I've now got the tools in the Yamaha R1 that will allow me to work to my strengths.
"The thing I struggled most with this past two seasons on the BMW was throttle connection, and inside 10 laps at Calafat last week on the Yamaha, I knew I had it sorted. That was, and is, a big thing for me as it allows you to feel what the bike is doing under you and it's a huge confidence booster."
Despite using a lower specification engine, a standard swingarm and a road going fuel tank on day one at Cartagena, Laverty said: "I used the soft tyre all afternoon and worked on the chassis settings until I could get comfortable. But I'm very happy with what we achieved in terms of set-up and also our lap time here at Cartagena, that was only bettered by my team-mate," explained Laverty, whose best ever finish in the British Superbike series, ironically, came aboard Yamaha machinery back in 2011.
"Yeah in 2011 I rode the Swan Yamaha and the DNA of this bike is quite similar, although it's been improved in a lot of areas as you would expect," he said.
"The chassis really suits my riding style and I was quite surprised with my lap time as I wasn't really trying. To do the same lap time last year on the BMW I was really pushing, so it was a bit of a shock," offered Laverty, whose team-mate at McAMS Yamaha this year is James Ellison.
"I think I still have a lot of adapting to do to get the best out of the Yamaha after riding BMW's screamer engine last year and waiting for that hit of power to come in.
"I need to flow through the corners a bit more and wind the power on earlier, so the plan is to learn the motorcycle a lot more over the next three days," he concluded.
Local team Tyco BMW are also in action at Cartagena this week. The long-awaited debut of former World Superbike star Davide Giugliano on the Moneymore based team's factory S1000RR was well received by the press.
"I'm very happy so far with my new team and on a new bike," said Italian Giugliano. "I really like the bike and am enjoying riding with no electronics - it's a lot of fun.
"Now we must work to make the bike the best to suit my feeling."
The Cartagena Pro Test continues until Saturday.