Eugene Laverty made the best possible start to his 2010 challenge for the World Supersport Championship by convincingly winning the re-started opening round at Phillip Island in Australia yesterday.
Laverty, recently crowned Adelaide Racer Irish Motorcyclist of the Year, was leading the first start of the race before it was stopped due to an oil spillage on the track then on the 21-lap restart, from fourth position on the grid, he took the lead at Honda Hairpin on the opening lap and was soon in total control of the race.
The 23-year-old from Toomebridge rode immaculately on his Parkalgar Honda, setting the fastest lap of the race and stretching his lead lap by lap eventually taking the chequered flag over four seconds ahead of Spaniard Joan Lascorz and Turkish rider Kenan Sofuoglu.
A delighted Laverty said afterwards: “It was a pretty easy race to be honest after a difficult weekend trying to match the pace of Lascorz and Sofuoglu in practice.
“The rest could put in one blistering lap, but I knew I had a good race package and after improving that in morning warm-up I was confident over a race distance I had the set-up to run consistent lap times and that is exactly how it worked out.
“It couldn’t be a better start to the season for me as I now head to the teams home race at Portimao in a month’s time for the next round as world championship leader — a first in my career.”
Meanwhile Jonathan Rea took fourth and sixth place finishes in the opening two rounds of the World Superbike Championship after struggling with set-up problems with the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda.
From eighth position on the grid Rea moved quickly into fourth position in race one fighting off the attention of Italian Max Biaggi to finish 10 seconds adrift of race winner Leon Haslam who won the race by a tyre width from Michel Fabrizio with Noriuki Haga in third.
A mistake by Rea on the opening lap of race two saw him drop to last position, but with a fighting ride he made his way through to sixth at the end of the 22-lap race won by Carlos Checa from Haslam and Fabrizio.
Rea commented: “We had problems all weekend and knew we would have to fight through the races, so fourth and sixth might sound bad, but I’ll take it.
“After race one we made a slight change to the bike at the front end and I think it caught me out as I braked for the hairpin on the first lap and I ran wide onto the grass.
“By the time I got back on track I was last, which actually motivated me and I enjoyed riding through the field passing maybe 16 riders on the way to sixth. I’m looking forward now to the next round and fighting for some podiums.”
Nearer to home and Graeme Irwin from Ballyclare won his first ever British Motocross race near Exeter yesterday when he was triumphant for the Red Bull KTM UK Team in the first MX 2 race with near neighbour Martin Barr in third spot. In race two Irwin dropped to ninth with Barr in fifth.
Gordon Crockard was eighth and sixth in the opening MX1 Races.