Eugene Laverty is on track to chase Rea
Eugene Laverty may be on the verge of landing the World Supersport crown but the Toomebridge man has arguably landed an even bigger prize.
For the 24-year-old has been handed a factory ride in next year's World Superbike Championship, where he will get the chance to pit his wits against fellow Ulsterman, Jonathan Rea.
Laverty will ride in the Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike Team on the YZF-R1 alongside MotoGP rider Marco Melandri for the 2011 season.
While his career seems to be on the up and up, it could spell trouble for former MotoGP rider James Toseland, who Laverty will effectively be replacing next season.
Laverty, who came second in the World Supersport Championship last season, is currently in second spot this time around, just 12 points behind the leader with two rounds to go.
Seven wins and five pole positions have caught the eye of the Japanese giants and Laverty is delighted to have signed the deal.
“It's great to have a contract signed at this stage while still fighting for the title in the Supersport class,” he explained.
“I desperately want to win this year before moving on. Ben Spies winning the championship in 2009 and Cal Crutchlow now stepping up and winning races shows the bike and team are more than capable so the rest is up to me. I think with the team support and a good testing schedule we can start the 2011 championship ready to be competitive from the first race and be on the podium as early as possible.”
Laverty is no stranger to Yamaha, having taken time out from the 250cc MotoGP Championship to enjoy two wild card World Supersport rides in 2008 in place of injured rider Fabien Foret. He adapted quickly, scoring an impressive podium finish with third in his second outing at Vallelunga.
“When I rode the Yamaha YZF-R6 in World Supersport in 2008 I was having a tough time in 250s, it’s nice that Yamaha brought me to the fore and are now giving me the opportunity within Superbike,” Laverty added.
“Having a team-mate like Marco Melandri is great, he has a wealth of experience to learn from so I'm going to enjoy riding with him.”
The deal concludes a busy period for Yamaha which began when legendary reigning MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi announced he was joining Ducati for 2011.
That saw Ben Spies move into the factory MotoGP team alongside Jorge Lorenzo with Toseland's current team-mate Cal Crutchlow replacing Spies in the Tech 3 garage next year.
Yamaha announced earlier this week that Melandri would be replacing Crutchlow next season and Laverty now completes the Superbike factory team. Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Team boss Laurens Klein said: “We’ve been very impressed with Eugene in the World Supersport Championship.
“He is a very talented racer who has shown great dedication to training, is focused on victory and we know he’s a great person to work with.
“We have proved with Cal Crutchlow that we have the facility to bring young riders through from World Supersport, nurture and develop them in World Superbike and provide them with opportunities in MotoGP.”