Eugene Laverty roars back for his highest-ever finish
Eugene Laverty had his most impressive performance to date in the MotoGP world championship with his Power Electronics Aspar Honda team at Mugello yesterday.
The Toomebridge rider was one of only 16 finishers, but 12th place is his highest finish to date as a series rookie, in a race that saw Movistar Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo take his fourth straight win of the season.
Laverty, who had a tough weekend with two crashes during qualifying, came back strongly to score points for the third round in succession, despite starting from 22nd place on the grid.
The Monaco-based Ulsterman said afterwards: "We started out well on Friday but Saturday was a tough day with the two crashes.
"We lost some confidence and valuable track time, but we reacted well and improved the bike for the race, so I am happy with this result."
Laverty's Aspar crew made a few changes, which were able to give him much-needed confidence in the front end of his machine, and in turn offering improved grip.
He said: "Yes we found an improvement which certainly helped me get the bike stopped with a full fuel tank.
"But our weak point was at the end of the race when the tyres lost grip.
"Anyway, the fact we improved overall on race day is a big positive and it meant I was able to ride with confidence throughout the race.
"We have an important test on Monday with some new material to try, so hopefully we can build on the progress we made and find something extra."
Meanwhile, at the business end of proceedings, reigning MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez saw the last hopes of retaining the title go up in smoke when he crashed out as he was trying to keep Jorge Lorenzo in his sights.
Lorenzo's victory was the first time he has won four races in succession, crossing the line just a second ahead of his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi, who said a bad start cost him a potential victory.
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa had a lonely race at the end for his first podium of the year, while Andrea Iannone was gifted fourth place when Aleix Espargaro crashed out with five laps to go.
Britain's Bradley Smith took fifth place and is one point behind Marquez in the title chase, with Maverick Vinales on the remaining Suzuki in sixth.
Scott Redding took seventh place with Stefan Bradl the leading Open class man in eighth.
Danilo Petrucci and Alvaro Bautista completed the top ten line-up.
Meanwhile, in the Moto2 World Championship, Sam Lowes took a solid fourth place in yesterday's race in Catalunya, as Johann Zarco bagged the win and increased his championship lead by passing reigning title-holder Tito Rabat on the last lap.
The result means Lowes climbs to third place in the championship stakes, leapfrogging Thomas Luthi, who could only muster sixth place in Spain.