Belfast Telegraph

MotoGP: Brief goodbye from Eugene Laverty as he gets right back on track

By Paul Lindsay

Toome's Eugene Laverty wasn't able to sign-off with a memorable performance at the final MotoGP race of the season in Valencia yesterday, but the Irishman will be back on track, Tuesday and Wednesday, testing for his new employers Aprilia aboard their Grand Prix machinery at the Spanish venue.

Having ended his two-year tenure with the Aspar team, with 16th place on the Pull & Bear Ducati yesterday at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Laverty will prepare for his return to the World Superbike paddock with Shaun Muir's Milwaukee Aprilia team.

He will also work as a testing a development rider on Aprilia's MotoGP project. If anything, it will keep Laverty's name alive in the premier class paddock, but the former World Superbike No2's main goal will undoubtedly be to challenge fellow Ulsterman and reigning champion Jonathan Rea for the 2017 World Superbike crown.

Looking back on his farewell MotoGP race yesterday, Laverty said: "It wasn't a strong race for me and I really struggled most of the time with grip. The lap times weren't bad but I just wasn't able to run with the guys late on."

Despite only finishing out of the points on three occasions all year, Laverty slipped to 13th place overall in the final MotoGP standings for the.season The race was won by Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo.

In his own inimitable style of dry humour, the affable Toome lad added: "I passed my bike theory test last week in Monaco after failing it a couple of times so in theory I can ride a motorcycle!"

The 2016 season may well be over but with just 24 to relax and spend some down-time with his wife Pippa, it will then be back into the leathers and on track for Laverty, as he begins his testing role with Aprilia.

"I'm going to be testing the MotoGP bike for Aprilia in 2017 as part of the deal, where I will ride full time for Milwaukee Aprilia in World Superbike," he explained.

"I'm actually testing the MotoGP bike for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday here at Valencia, so I'm looking forward to that."

Laverty will then make a quick dash home to his Monaco base to get his case unpacked and re-packed, before heading back to Spain to Jerez, to meet up with his new Milwaukee Aprilia team-mates and begin his 2017 testing campaign pn the World Superbike.

"It's going to be a busy time for me this next few weeks. It's the end of the year yes, but it's one day off, then we start again, so not much of an off season, but I'm really looking forward to 2017 and being back at the front fighting for wins with the Milwaukee Aprilia guys," Laverty said of Shaun Muir's team, who have moved to factory-supported Aprilia machinery for 2017.

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