Belfast Telegraph

Revved-up Laverty vows to be major force in title race

By Paul Lindsay

British Superbike ace Michael Laverty has fired a warning shot across the bows of his rivals from his base in Spain, where he is currently testing with Tyco BMW.

Laverty warned his foes to prepare for a more intense, aggressive and single minded approach as he looks to finally have his name inscribed on BSB's main prize this coming season.

Speaking from the Roda Gold resort in Los Alcázares, where he is sharing a villa with new team-mates Christian Iddon, Josh Elliott and Ian Hutchinson, Laverty said: "Last year we were on a new bike and I was just back into BSB, but now we have the BMW in a good place and where I want it to be set-up wise.

"There are no excuses now. I'm here to win the championship and that goal starts as early as the opening round at Silverstone."

Laverty has never been a prolific winner in the British Superbike championship despite having won races with Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and now BMW during his career, but it's something he's fully aware must change this time around.

"Towards the end of last season I was pretty much in the podium mix at every round. Then, on the final day last year, we proved that we could win a race, so that breeds confidence," said Laverty, who then explained his game plan for the year ahead.

"I want wins to become expected this year and get to the level where (Josh) Brookes was last year with 12 wins to take the title, and like Shakey (Shane Byrne) did the year before with six wins from the opening eight races. That's how to win a championship, from the front."

The Ulsterman's talent has never been in question, but too many times in the past when a dogfight ensues, he has always been the bridesmaid, which he is honest enough to admit.

"I've trained a lot with my brother-in-law Chaz Davies over the winter," Laverty confided, referring to the warm-weather training base he shared with the factory Ducati World Superbike star in Girona, instead of staying at home, which is Presteigne in Wales these days.

"Chaz has also been considered too nice a guy on track in the past, but despite being the most docile, placid guy you would ever meet, he has changed that mentality on track.

"He now attacks at any given opportunity, and that's exactly what I intend to do this season."

Speaking of his rivals and using that all-new single-minded philosophy, Laverty explained: "That can be tough against a guy like Shakey (Byrne) who has had it his own way for so long. He believes he owns his position on track.

"Yes you've got to be careful how you do it, but my goal is to make my presence felt this year and be as forceful as he is on track at every round, in every race.

"I'll admit I have work to do to establish that, but I'm prepared to fight for it as that is what will make the difference."

Riding for the official BMW Motorrad team in British Superbike with a backroom staff he knows well - team manager Philip Neill and his crew - is another positive for Laverty, who won the British Supersport title with the Moneymore team back in 2007.

His new team-mate Elliott, the current British Superstock 1000 champion, was just 12-years-old when Laverty last won a championship, which was a point of interest and banter in the Spanish villa - so it's time to step up.

"I've got everything I need to deliver, so it's now down to me to extract what I need from myself to win this year," added Laverty.

"The tough times make you stronger and the start of last year did that for me.

"Every day is a school day in this sport - you never stop learning - but I'll not be too shy to be making the moves this year to win races.

"I'll make some enemies along the way if need be to get myself on that top step; in the end, that's all that matters."

Belfast Telegraph

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