Parkalgar Honda rider Eugene Laverty sadly couldn’t make it four championship wins on the trot at Miller Motorsports Park, during yesterday’s Memorial Day World Supersport race in the western state of Utah, USA.
The Toomebridge man, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Thursday, got the best possible start, leading the pack into turn one on the opening lap from his P2 grid spot, but a full fuel load early on and rear end chatter problems in the closing stages prohibited Laverty from matching the pace of championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu — who went on to take his 17th world Supersport career victory for Ten Kate Honda.
Laverty was less than pleased, describing his machine as, ‘un-rideable’ to his crew chief Phil Marron in the podium holding area post race — a product of his rear Pirelli tyre spinning on the rim.
But the Toomebridge lad shouldn’t be too despondent with his second place, retaining second place in the overall standings, just six points behind Sofuoglu after seven races.
Spain’s Joan Lascorz on the motocard.com Kawasaki pressed Laverty in the final few laps but had to settle for third place, maintaining his 100% podium record this season.
The former Supermoto rider is now just eight points behind Laverty in what has turned into a three-horse championship chase, that will no doubt go right down to the wire at the final round in October.
Laverty said: “That was a tough race but I enjoyed it at the beginning. I didn’t want to let Kenan go at the start but I knew I wouldn’t have the pace in the early stages with a full fuel load.
“I had some tyre problems with the rear moving on the rim and those last few laps were a bit of a ‘hairy sail’.
“I’ve only lost five points in the last four races, and I know, along with the Parkalgar team, we will bounce back at Misano at the end of June.”
In the World Superbike Championship, a battered and bruised Jonathan Rea (after his Superpole tumble) was destined for more gravel-rash after a race one crash in the opening laps.
The brave Ulsterman picked his 165kg Honda Superbike out of the gravel trap and nursed it to 14th place and two very valuable points.
Early pace setter Carlos Checa, who pre-race held joint third place in the championship standings with Rea, had to watch his rivals sail past with only three laps to go when his Althea Ducati gave up the ghost.
Alitalia Aprilia’s Max Biaggi was more than happy to take a gifted victory from main rival and current series leader Leon Haslam (Alstare Suzuki) with a rejuvenated Nori Haga third on the Xerox Ducati.