Belfast Telegraph

Ulster star Laverty is out to upstage Valentino Rossi

By Paul Lindsay

The MotoGP race at Mugello will be all about Yamaha's championship leader Valentino Rossi and his passionate Italian fans, but there's a certain Ulsterman who is also looking forward to his weekend in Tuscany.

Eugene Laverty, who turns 29 next week, scored his first MotoGP world championship points last time out for the Power Electronics Aspar Honda Team, and his team-mate and former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden was the winner of the Open class at Le Mans on the team's RC213V-RS.

Both riders are highly motivated and up for the challenge that Mugello's technical circuit will throw up during round six, and despite its kilometre-long straight, the fast flowing layout of the 3.259-mile venue is one that Monaco-based Laverty is relishing.

"There's no doubt Mugello is a real riders' circuit," said Laverty, who was able to take in the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix last weekend for the very first time in his adopted home town as a spectator.

"It's impossible not to enjoy riding Mugello," added Laverty, recounting the sinuous nature of the circuit and its 15 turns, which include the infamous Arrabbiata one and two.

"I tested a Superbike briefly at Mugello back in 2012, so it's fair to say I have little experience of riding the circuit on a 1000cc machine," said Laverty, who enjoyed his weekend away from racing watching Formula 1. The only way it should be viewed I might add - as a guest aboard a yacht.

"It was great to be able to watch Formula 1 take over the town, and also see the guys in action just a short walk from my home. I also enjoyed watching trackside and the great thing about the Monaco Grand Prix is that you can get really close to the action."

Supporting his new found cycling buddies and fellow principality residents, he explained: "I was supporting both Daniel Ricciardo and Jenson Button so it was great to see those two have their best races of the year to date.

"Monaco is a unique track and I've no idea how those guys can find anywhere to overtake around there. In bike racing more or less every corner is an overtaking opportunity, but that's just not the case in car racing.

"F1 is a great spectacle but MotoGP has always been where my heart lies," he remarked.

Recounting his debut points finish in MotoGP, Laverty said: "Le Mans was a very difficult weekend, so I'm keen to make amends in Mugello.

"My team-mate Nicky Hayden made a big step forward last time out, having received a new swingarm, and I hope to do the same once I receive the update.

"Scoring points was great in France, and my aim is to continue this forward momentum and try to fight for an Open class victory very soon."

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez has held the circuit lap record at Mugello since 2013 (1min 47.639sec) with a phenomenal top speed of 217mph aboard his factory Repsol Honda.

It's the first time since 2008 that the legendary Rossi will start his home Grand Prix as championship leader.

The Movistar Yamaha rider enjoyed seven consecutive wins at the circuit between 2002 and 2008, with a podium last year ending a lengthy spell without a top three finish.

Belfast Telegraph


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