Eugene to be a pain in Spain for Marco
Yamaha mounted Eugene Laverty will not only look to consolidate his fourth place in the World Superbike Championship this weekend at Aragon in Spain — a new venue on the calendar for 2011 —he will be quietly confident of closing the gap on his more experienced team-mate Marco Melandri.
The Italian holds just a 27-point advantage over the Toomebridge rider.
The 24-year-old WSB rookie had a memorable double victory at Monza in May, and since then he’s held his own with the world’s best Superbike riders.
At Salt Lake City, only championship leader Carlos Checa scored more points than Laverty out of those riders currently in the top six; then at Misano Adriatico last weekend, despite crashing out of a potential podium in race two, his race one fifth place was enough to open up a 17-point gap over Leon Haslam in the title race.
“I’m really looking forward to Aragon as we tested there after my double at Monza and it went pretty well,” explained Laverty.
“It’s a new track that most of the other riders haven’t raced on before, so hopefully this will be an advantage for us. I had a tough weekend in Misano but I intend bouncing back in Aragon.”
Championship leader Carlos Checa will be hoping to make it four double victories this season, or three on the bounce after impeccable 100% records in America and Italy.
It’s a home round for the Althea Ducati rider and with a 72-point lead already gathered up over nearest rival and current champion Max Biaggi [Alitalia Aprilia] — the title swing taking shape.
“It is a left-handed track which I prefer and I'm really enthusiastic and happy to race in my home country,” said the 38-year-old Barcelona rider.
“It's the first time that Superbikes have come to Aragon and I would love to give the Spanish public two great race wins.”
One man who will be conspicuous by his absence at Aragon is Ballyclare’s Isle of Man resident Jonathan Rea, who is convalescing at home in Castletown after breaking his right wrist at Misano.
The Ulsterman is also nursing a broken toe and a chipped collarbone for his heroics on the under-performing Ten Kate prepared Castrol Honda in Italy.
Rea has slipped to eighth in the championship standings and now that his title hopes are over for 2011, it’s a matter of getting fit and back in the saddle.
The Superpole session takes place today at 2pm with Sunday’s races at 11am and 2.30pm.
Meanwhile, Dani Pedrosa could return to the MotoGP grid for next week's Dutch Grand Prix after he underwent more surgery on his collarbone.
The Spaniard, who rides for Repsol Honda, was battling for second with Marco Simoncelli at the French Grand Prix in May before he clipped the Italian's rear wheel and fell, sustaining a fracture on his right collarbone.
His could begin his rehabilitation return to action at Assen on June 25.
He will have to prove he’s fit to race to MotoGP's medical staff.