Laverty looking to maintain winning habit
World Supersport rider Eugene Laverty arrived at his adopted home round in Portimao earlier this week as championship leader, and the Toomebridge lad will want to make it two wins from two starts at the all-new Portuguese Parkalgar circuit tomorrow afternoon.
Laverty won the opening round in convincing fashion just over a month ago at Phillip Island in Australia, but the Irish title favourite is now expecting a physical battle at Portimao from his two main championship rivals, Joan Lascorz and Kenan Sofuoglu.
“It’s not often you get the chance to win just as easy as I did in Australia,” explained Laverty. “But I expect both Kenan and Lascorz to give me a hard time for the rest of the season. It is nice to be leading the world championship and another win at Portimao for our sponsors would be great.”
Laverty won the same Portuguese round last year, which was the final race on the 2009 calendar, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to topple eventual champion Cal Crutchlow from the top the table in the final championship shuffle.
While Crutchlow has moved on to the premier World Superbike series with Yamaha, Laverty has remained loyal to the middleweight division, with visions of championship success this term, before possibly moving to the all-new Moto2 series in MotoGP for 2011.
For now, Laverty must remain fully focused on the job in hand, although Sofuoglu and Lascorz will no doubt give him a few sleepless nights.
Lascorz is a hard charging Spaniard who cut his teeth in the Supermoto discipline, and Sofuoglu is one of Turkey’s only motorcycle stars.
Riding for the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team, the multi-lingual Sofuoglu has the advantage of knowing how to win the championship, having taken the crown in 2007, and Lasorz is looking to be the first Kawasaki rider to triumph in the series since Aussie Andrew Pitt in 2001.
The Autodromo Internacional Algarve circuit, to give it its full title, is a state of the art 2.85-mile undulating masterpiece that was first used in 2008, and with 55,000 fans expected to file through the gates tomorrow morning, Laverty will carry not only the Irish but also the Portuguese fans’ high expectations on his shoulders.
Also in action this weekend are Ballyclare’s Jonathan Rea and 15-year-old Josh Elliott from Ballinamallard. Rea is one of the leading contenders in the World Superbike series and Elliott is flying the lone British and Irish flag this season in the 10 round European Superstock 600 class.
The first Superstock 1000 race starts tomorrow at 10.40am and is live on Eurosport 2.