Belfast Telegraph

Eugene Laverty ends season on a high

By ROY HARRIS

Eugene Laverty completed his 2013 World Superbike season in style at Jerez in Spain yesterday by racing to a dominant but contrasting double victory.

It was not enough, however, to win the world championship, which went to Yorkshire’s Tom Sykes by 23 points from Laverty despite both winning nine races each this season.

In race one, Laverty led 19 of the 21 laps before Marco Melandri put a tough move on the Aprilia rider with paint swapped as both ran wide at the hairpin at the end of the long back straight.

Laverty was having none of it and fought back to ride around the outside of Melandri at the last corner on the final lap in a sensational move to snatch victory on the dash to the chequered flag.

However, third place was enough to give Sykes his first world title and the first for Kawasaki for 20 years.

Race two saw Laverty shadow Sykes for 13 laps before sweeping inside the Kawasaki at the final corner and, once in front, gradually ease away to a comfortable 2.7 second victory over the new world champion.

Following his eighth and ninth victories of the campaign, Laverty said: “It’s a nice way to end the season, something that is always important.

“That overtake in race one was one of the best of my career. Marco had made an aggressive move on me earlier in the race and ran me off the track to take the lead, but I knew I had to win and when he sat up for a blocking move at the last corner I decided to go round the outside and surprise him.

“I knew in race two I had more grip than Tom and once ahead it was plain sailing.”

Laverty was left to reflect that the championship slipped away from him earlier in the season with too many non-finishes his third runner-up finish after taking second in both the 2009 and 2010 World Supersport championship.

Where the Monaco based Toomebridge rider goes next season is still undecided with the bookies money on him making a return to the MotoGP paddock in 2014, although his impressive end to this season may make Aprilia have second thoughts about his future.

Jonathan Rea, the forgotten man of world Superbikes following his broken femur at Nurburgring, is training hard and expected to test his Pata Honda at Jerez today and tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the 2013 MCE Insurance British Superbike and Motorpoint British Supersport championships came to a dramatic conclusion over the weekend at Brands Hatch, where Stuart

Easton clinched the supersport championship for Tim and Sonia Martin’s Saintfield based Mar-Train Yamaha Team despite the best efforts of Carrick rider Alastair Seeley to deny them their moment of glory.

For Mar-Train, this was just reward having just lost out on the championship last year in the final race when Jack Kennedy was forced to retire with the title in his grasp.

In Saturday’s damp sprint race, Seeley finished second 3.7secs behind Richard Cooper while Easton limped home in eleventh position with a technical issue, the title now resting on yesterday’s final race in a winner takes all scenario with Easton leading Seeley by four points.

 On the tenth lap, Easton and Cooper crucially dived past Seeley into first and second, as the ‘Wee Wizard’ hesitated slightly on a wet section of the track and then, a lap later, the red flags came out following a crash at Paddock Bend with the result declared from the tenth lap — Easton a tenth of a second clear of Cooper with Seeley a further two tenths back in third.

“I never gave up on this championship and done what it took to win it,” said a delighted Easton, who took the crown 13 points ahead of Seeley.

“I made hard work of it at times during the season but, in the end, I won more races than anyone else and that’s why I’m champion, I suppose.

“A huge thanks must go to the Mar-Train Yamaha Team, who gave me everything I wanted.”

A disappointed Seeley commented: “It was a good race, shame the red flags stopped it, but the championship wasn’t lost today. It was when I suffered mid-season injury. Congratulations to Stuart, he done well.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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