Ulster rider Michael Laverty set for second MotoGP season
Ulster rider Michael Laverty is set for a second season in MotoGP, the Premier League of motorcycle racing.
His Paul Bird Motorsport team will be contesting the MotoGP World Championship and the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship with a two rider team in each series in 2014.
And Toome native Michael will continue for a second year in MotoGP where he will be joined by Australian Broc Parkes on board the team's PBM Aprilias. In BSB, triple champion Shane 'Shakey' Byrne will be joined by reigning British Supersport champion Stuart
Easton on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ZX-10Rs. Easton won the title this year for the Saintfield-based Mar-Train outfit.
Laverty ended his debut season in the MotoGP World Championship in 25th overall with a best result of 13th at Jerez. Parkes, meanwhile, is a former runner-up in the World Supersport Championship and raced a Kawasaki for the PBM team in World Superbikes in 2009.
In the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Byrne was narrowly beaten to the title in the very last race of the season but became the most successful rider in BSB history taking his tally to 51 wins
Returning to the team he last raced with in 2012, Scotsman Stuart Easton is hoping to add to his success for the Cumbrian-based team.
All four bikes are expected to run in the traditional British Racing Green livery and the team will be officially unveiled at the London Motorcycle Show from February 14-16.
Michael said: "We learned so much in year one that I'm delighted Paul has continued his involvement with MotoGP and that he's given me the opportunity to continue with the project.
"Everyone has told me that year two is much easier so the aim is to put into place what we have learned and to raise our game accordingly. The class is going to be a lot tougher with the new production bikes but our aim is to consistently score points."
Stuart Easton said: "I'm pleased to be back in British Superbikes and especially riding for PBM on the Kawasaki.
"It was brilliant to win the British Supersport title last year as it got me fit and back to form so now I feel I'm ready to step up to BSB again which is where I want to be.
"My first run out on the bike in Spain was very positive and I was on the pace so can't wait for another outing in preparation for the season ahead."
And team owner Paul Bird added: "It's taken a little while but I've got the four riders I wanted in the two championships I wanted to race in.
"We've done a lot of spade work in MotoGP over the past two seasons so the plan is to build on that and work with our partners and Michael and Broc are very capable of delivering.
"As for BSB, it really hurt us losing our crown to Honda so Shakey's back to try and reclaim it and Stuart needed a year away from BSB and is now back in the big time with us.
"We have some wonderful and loyal sponsors with Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence specialists Rapid Solicitors and Fuchs Silkolene on board again and also, we'd like to welcome MAC Tools too. There's still some business to sort which will be of very big interest when we announce it so watch this space!"
The opening round of the MotoGP World Championship takes place at Qatar on March 23 with round one of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship taking place at Brands Hatch on April 21.
Belfast Telegraph Digital