Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Laverty lords it with Qatar win

Toomebridge-based World Supersport rookie Eugene Laverty has put himself firmly in the running for this year's title after a debut win at round two in Qatar.

The 22-year-old Parkalgar Honda rider fought a race long battle with current world champion Andrew Pitt, the Australian's Ten Kate Honda team-mate Kenan Sofuoglu — also 2007 World Supersport champion — and fellow series debutant, Cal Crutchlow from Coventry.

Some shine was taken off his victory celebrations, though, as he became embroiled in the age old flags and anthems chestnut.

Laverty had shown great form during his debut in Australia just a fortnight ago, where he narrowly missed out on a podium finish, but at the Doha Circuit in Qatar, he was as cool as the proverbial cucumber, leading for long periods before shading the victory on the final lap from Aussie Pitt.

He later revealed it was only Pitt's congratulations on the cooling down lap that convinced him he'd actually won.

Laverty told the Belfast Telegraph: "I was a little confused by my pit board and mid-race I thought it said seventh. I dropped back from the lead and it said fourth, but when I led again it read seventh again!

“I just decided to get my head down and do my best, and it took Andrew Pitt's congratulations afterwards for it to register that I had won.

"For the last couple of years I have been fighting for just points in 250 Grand Prix, now here I am winning a race at only my second attempt with Parkalgar Honda and challenging for a World title.

“After two seasons in the wilderness I feel I'm now back where I belong. All I can say is thank you to the whole Parkalgar Honda team and I'd like dedicate this win to Craig Jones."

Jones died as a result of head injuries sustained during the the Brands Hatch round of the 2008 Supersport World Championship season.

Laverty sits third in the series after two rounds, only four points behind Pitt.

Unfortunately for Laverty, his accompaniment on the podium by the Irish tricolour and national anthem caused a stir on home soil. A number of fellow riders, supporters, and officials in Northern Ireland have expressed their disappointment, mentioning that Laverty, like Jonathan Rea, is an Ulster Centre registered rider.

It's a sad reflection on sport in Northern Ireland that we again come up against this problem, when really we should be celebrating another discovery of talent.

Previously Laverty had joked: “I'll get them to play a Green Day track and run up a skull and cross-bones!"

Local sport should never have to devote column inches to these issues.

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