Belfast Telegraph

Laverty kept on track by private jet offer

Despite the French Air Traffic Control strike throwing European flights into chaos, Preteigne based Ulsterman Michael Laverty need not stress: his MotoGP team boss, Paul Bird, has hired a private jet to get the Toome man on track at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend.

With many of his UK-based peers and former team-mates currently en-route to 'Jock-Hill' in Scotland for round five of the British Superbike series, the Toomebridge man is more than pleased to be heading to Barcelona and the Spanish sunshine.

"I had two cancelled flights and was just making plans for a 20 hour drive, when Paul rang me to say he was hiring a private jet – so no, Knockhill was starting to look a better option," joked Laverty.

Laverty left the relevant safety of British Superbike at the end of last season, following an unexpected phone call from Bird. The Cumbrian businessman was offering a ride in his PBM Motorsport, MotoGP Claiming Rules Team [CRT] on an all-new British build chassis. It was too good an offer to turn down as Michael explained:

"I had been looking to set myself up with the best possible team in British Superbike but when Birdy rang and said Shakey was going to stay in BSB and the CRT ride was available; I didn't take too long to make my mind up," explained the affable 32-year-old.

The CRT teams are basically a MotoGP class 'bolt on', initiated as a grid filling exercise; utilising what is effectively, production based engines, housed in prototype chassis. They have their own championship and have the marmite – love them or hate them – effect within the paddock, but Laverty to his credit is gaining plenty of exposure.

At Jerez at the beginning of May he scored his first-ever MotoGP world championship points after finishing 13th on the PBM Motorsport machine, and despite it being very much a development role – he's having a ball. "It's been an enjoyable if not very busy few months," Laverty explained. "There's a lot of travelling and we have to be realistic what we can achieve at this stage, but I'm still getting a lot of personal satisfaction from the job."

With one eye already on 2014, Laverty explained his thinking process. "I've won races before and felt empty in British championship, but developing the PBM bike is rewarding.

"There's so much to learn but I don't want to waste this year in MotoGP. I'd certainly like to have another crack at it next year and Paul has already said he'd like to continue."

Many riders have struggled with the transition to carbon brakes and the ultra-stiff construction of MotoGP's Bridgestone tyres, but Laverty settled in immediately. "My riding style suits the MotoGP bike as I put a lot of force through the front and that works better with the chassis and tyres we are using.

"It's a natural feel for me, which started with me riding 'one-two-fives' and the 500GP bike. But you just have to enjoy it and not grind yourself into a hole. It's a great life experience and I intend grabbing it with both hands," he signed off, before heading for that unexpected private jet.

Belfast Telegraph

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