Belfast Telegraph

Eugene Laverty on fast track for points as MotoGP returns to Austria's Red Bull Ring

By Jill Goligher

Eugene Laverty makes his first competitive MotoGP appearance at the famous Red Bull Red circuit in Austria this weekend convinced the track is perfectly suited to increasing his championship s points.

MotoGP returns to the Spielberg venue for the first time in 19 years with Pull&Bear Aspar Team rider Laverty sitting in a comfortable position of 10th in the championship, thanks to his unbroken run of points, scoring finishes in every race so far this season.

Having shown time and again his ability to step up his performance on race day, Laverty, however, has yet to secure a place on the front four rows of the grid and this will again be his objective in Austria.

The Toombridge rider says he is confident ahead of this weekend and looking forward to the challenge.

Having previously tested on the Spielberg circuit in July, he believes the circuit suits the team's Ducati machines and that he is in with a strong chance of gaining some championship points.

Eugene said: "I like the track, it suits our bike and it seems like it is made for the Ducatis. There are a lot of straights, hard acceleration points and hard braking zones, which are the strong points of our bike. The test there in July went quite well and we managed to set some consistent times. We also worked on different aspects of the bike that we hadn't had a chance to work on up to then, such as variations to the geometry and the front suspension."

Team-mate Yonny Hernandez will also be hoping to add to his championship points at the Austrian MotoGP. In contrast to Laverty, Hernandez has shown his potential in qualifying but has not had the luck to convert his pace into a result in the races.

Hernandez said: "My first impressions of the track in Austria were good - it is small but it has some fun elevation changes and the Ducatis were fast in the July test so we are hoping for a good result there this weekend.

"From our point of view in the test, we had some problems with the rear tyres which were wearing out quite quickly, so that is something we will need to work on this weekend."

This is the first time since June 1997, that the MotoGP World Championship will be staged at the Red Bull Ring. Back then, a young Valentino Rossi, the only rider from that day still active, took second place in the 125cc race. A lot has changed in the racing industry in those 19 years... the bikes, the categories, the riders.. all except Rossi who remains in the fight for MotoGP glory.

With half of the season already over, the next two races will take place over just eight days, as Austria and the Czech Republic host rounds nine and 10. With 50 points up for grabs, the two races will go a long way to determining who lifts the title on the final day in Valencia.

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