Eugene Laverty can get back on track with his Sunday best
Eugene Laverty and his Aspar Ducati team will this weekend embrace the first ever 'Sunday service' at the Dutch TT in Assen during round eight of the MotoGP World championship.
After years of racing on a Saturday at Assen's TT circuit - dubbed the Cathedral of Speed - the MotoGP circus will break new ground at the Netherlands venue on Sunday, when Laverty's main focus will be to reclaim his top 10 position in the standings of motorcycling's premier class.
"My objective this weekend is another top-10 finish," said the Monaco-based Ulsterman, who, like his World Superbike counterpart Jonathan Rea, has been keeping one eye on Euro 2016 after both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland qualified for the knock-out stages.
Reflecting on round seven in Spain, where he finished 13th, Laverty explained: "After the result in Barcelona, I have dropped out of the top 10 in the championship, so we have to keep pushing to get back amongst the best.
"I like the Assen circuit, but it will be important to control the power of the Ducati to make it manageable. I am very focused on this next race and getting my place back in the top 10."
Repsol Honda's Marc Márquez arrives in the Netherlands top of the championship standings, with Yamaha-mounted Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi the only other riders in the series to have previously won at the Dutch TT.
Rossi has seven wins to his name, the latest coming just last season, while Márquez and Lorenzo have one apiece. Márquez leads the championship on 125 points with Lorenzo 10 behind on 115 after his no score in Barcelona, and nine-time World champion Rossi is closing in on 111 points after his triumph at the Catalan venue.
Laverty holds 11th place on 39 points, just two behind fellow Ducati rider Andrea Iannone, who in turn is only two behind the factory Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.
Closer to home, the fourth round of the British Superbike Championship takes place this weekend at Knockhill in Scotland. Jordanstown racer Andy Reid is the current leader of the British Supersport class with his Quattro Plant Cool Kawasaki squad.
Speaking ahead of round four at the Fife venue, Reid said: "I'm absolutely champing at the bit to get going. I've never been so excited about getting back to racing after what feels like an age.
"I've prepared correctly, watching all the videos and working things out, and having missed Knockhill last year, I'm really looking forward to it this time around."
The Cool Milk-sponsored rider has been spending quite a bit of time on two wheels during the interim period, but it has been pedal power and not horsepower which has been delivering his daily fix.
He added: "I've spent way too much money putting the final touches to a new pushbike I'm building, but thanks to my local bike shop -Dave Kane Cycles - it will be ready for me coming back from Knockhill... hopefully to celebrate on with an extended championship lead."
Despite holding a slender six-point advantage at the top of the standings, Reid has shown an air of maturity this season both on and off the track, which he simply puts down to another year's experience.
"This time last year someone would have been having a word in my ear," he said. "I've learned that on certain days you have to settle for points instead of always trying to be king of the world and that new mindset has helped me keep the Quattro Plant Cool Kawasaki team at the top."