Laverty getting to grips with Silverstone
Eugene Laverty will take part in his final British Grand Prix tomorrow before returning to the World Superbike paddock with Milwaukee Aprilia in 2017, and the Toomebridge ace yesterday took his first tentative steps in free practice at Silverstone aboard the Aspar Ducati.
Laverty finished in 14th place yesterday, on a day when four different manufacturers took the top four spots in free practice.
The Monaco-based Ulsterman, aboard the Pull & Bear liveried Aspar Ducati, said of day one: "It was good to start the weekend with two dry sessions and to be honest I thought it would feel bumpier here than last year, because that has been the case at most circuits this season (Laverty was referring to the change from Bridgestone to Michelin tyres).
"The bike feels unstable and there is not much grip out there. The main issue for us is finding some traction on the rear and putting down all this power we have onto the tarmac."
In-form pilot Andrea Iannone didn't have much trouble finding grip on his factory Ducati, ending the day on top of the timesheets thanks to a lap of two minutes 01.421seconds, which is inside the circuit record held by Dani Pedrosa.
Just three tenths of a second behind in second place was Suzuki-mounted Maverick Viñales, with British rider Cal Crutchlow - who took his maiden win in the class last time out in Brno - third fastest, two tenths of a second down on Viñales.
Behind yesterday's leading trio came the three title contenders - Yamaha's reigning World champion Jorge Lorenzo, lapping two tenths quicker than Marc Márquez (Repsol Honda) and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha).
With rain forecast for today's qualifying session, it's a potential opportunity that Laverty and a number of other privateer teams and riders will welcome.
Last time out in the Czech Republic in wet conditions on a drying track, Laverty finished in sixth position, which - as he openly admitted afterwards - should have been a maiden podium place.
Laverty and his team-mate Yonny Hernández did more work than anybody yesterday, the Pull & Bear Aspar riders clocking up 30 laps apiece as they prepare for a race that gets under way at 3.30pm tomorrow.
Crutchlow ended a 35-year wait for a British premier class winner in Brno last time out and his homeland contemporary Scott Redding, who was 10th yesterday, will also have aspirations of a British Grand Prix triumph tomorrow.