Raring to go Eugene Laverty is now ready to make a concerted attack on this season’s World Superbike Championship alongside five-time world champion Max Biaggi.
The 25-year-old Toomebridge rider could barely contain his excitement as he outlined his hopes and ambitions at yesterday’s official Aprilia Racing Team launch in Milan where the new-look orange and black liveried 2112 bike was unveiled.
Laverty, who finished runner up in the World Supersport class in 2010, made an impressive debut in the premier class last season, partnering Marco Melandri at Yamaha. Six podiums and a double success at Monza certainly brought him to the attention of his rivals, but sadly the demise of the Yamaha Italia team left Laverty to seek pastures new.
At one stage he was looking at a move to MotoGP to possibly partner Cal Crutchlow at Tech3 Yamaha, but riding alongside Max Biaggi in a factory Aprilia team wasn’t something he expected to happen.
In typical Laverty style, though, he’s up for the challenge.
“My expectations, for myself, are to win the championship," he insisted. "From the way I see it, we can both fight for the championship with no team orders.
“I’ve obviously nothing to hide from someone like Max Biaggi. He’s 40-years-old and has a lot of experience, but who knows, there may be things he can learn from me during the year.”
Laverty wasn’t sure until late 2011 whether he’d be sharing the same garage as Biaggi this season - all he knew was that his contract guaranteed factory machinery. And to be honest that’s all that mattered.
He explained: "When I signed I wasn’t sure what team I’d be in; I only knew I’d signed a factory contract, but in November they announced I’d be in the official team beside Max.
“Up until the launch the only time we’d met was at the first test in Portimao.”
Despite sharing the all-new Aprilia with the famous Italian stripes for 2012, it will be every man for himself this year - there will be no sharing of data between the duo, which Biaggi stipulated strongly in his contract.
We asked was he scared of the Toomebridge flyer?
Laverty shrugged off that notion but did tell us: “Neither of us will share each other’s data, that’s correct. There were a couple of strange things in Max’s contract, so I got ‘No’ to a few things I asked for. But that can work both ways. I’ve had the same things written into my contract now.”
And he openly admitted: “I learned a lot last year and it was good riding the Yamaha as it was a really good bike. With the Yamaha you had to put in a lot of effort, so I picked up a lot in that year and it taught me how to go around in circles pretty fast.”
Eugene’s first race of the season will be at Phillip Island in Australia at the end of February and he will test at the same track prior to the season-opener, eager to get started.
“Superbikes are extremely high performance machines and they require maximum riding effort," he acknowledged.
"There is no time to take in the scenery when racing any bike, even more so when racing a 1000cc machine.
“The factory derivatives have made giant steps forward like electronic management and performance in general, so I can’t wait to get racing later this month on the Aprilia.”