Belfast Telegraph

Eugene Laverty savours best ever win

By Paul Lindsay

New bike, same familiar victory charge... Brilliant Toome rider Eugene Laverty settled more of the man or machine arguments as he stormed to victory at the opening World Superbike race of 2014 in Australia yesterday, handing Suzuki their first top flight victory in the class since 2010.

With the track temperature peaking at 48 degrees, Laverty came through from seventh to take a superb win by almost three seconds over Italian Marco Melandri, who ironically, replaced the Ulsterman on the Aprilia team with whom Eugene recorded nine WSB podiums last term.

Sylvain Guintoli on the second factory Aprilia took the final podium spot, but Laverty was delighted to score a debut win for Suzuki in his very first race with the team.

“That first race was incredible,” said Laverty. “To be so far back on the first lap and come through to win, it really was the perfect race for us and a nice way to pay back the whole team for the belief they’ve shown in me.”

Giving credit to team owner Paul Denning, he added: “Paul worked hard to get me on board this season and he has delivered everything I needed.

“All the rest of the boys have really welcomed me, so it was nice to be able to reward them with the win right away, and it’s a win that means more to me than any so far in my World Superbike career.”

Denning, in turn, replied: “I have to thank Eugene for believing in this project and for riding with such aggression, precision and outright desire to win.”

The 27-year-old who finished second in last season’s title chase with the factory Aprilia team, gambled on a move to Suzuki for this season, but has proved that with the correct rider in the saddle, there’s very little between the top teams when it really comes down to it.

Despite the elation of a race one victory, the fairytale was nearly completed with a double victory. Sadly his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki motor gave up the ghost whilst the Ulsterman was disputing the lead in the closing stages.

The race win eventually went to his former team-mate at Aprilia Sylvain Guintoli, with Kawasaki riders Loris Baz and reigning world champion Tom Sykes, second and third.

Recounting the engine problem that cost him a potential second win, Laverty said: “It was a day of highs and lows. The second race was a disappointment for everyone. We didn’t deserve that, that’s for sure, but that’s racing and unfortunately it’s how it goes sometimes.”

Ballyclare’s Jonathan Rea put in two solid performance on his re

turn to racing with Pata Honda. Rea posted sixth and fifth placed finishes in the two races, and leaves Phillip Island holding seventh place, ojn 21 points, in the championship standings, just two spots behind Laverty on 25.

Guintoli is the series leader after round one on 50 points, with Loris Baz second (31pts) and Davide Guiglianom (26 pts) third heading into the second round at Aragon, Spain on April 13.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee Yamaha star Josh Brookes has added a Supersport bid to his Superbike entry at this year’s Vauxhall International North West 200.

The Australian British Superbikes star will ride a specially built World Supersport specification R6 Yamaha alongside the full FIM specification R1 that he will campaign in both Superbike races.

His team mate, Ian Hutchinson, will also ride in both the Supersport and Superbike races.

Brookes said: “UK fans probably only associate me with the Superbike class as that’s where they are used to seeing me race, but I’ve a lot of history in Supersport. I’ve won a couple of Australian titles and two races in World Supersport, and although I’ve never ridden the R6 before, my team boss Shaun Muir has a decent testing schedule planned before the North West.”

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