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Disappointed Laverty rues missed chance

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Eugene Laverty finished in 12th place

Eugene Laverty finished in 12th place

Eugene Laverty finished in 12th place

Toomebridge MotoGP ace Eugene Laverty was the first to admit that he missed a big chance of a top-six finish during yesterday's penultimate round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship in Malaysia.

The Ulsterman eventually finished in 12th place aboard his Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati.

Laverty said: "I'm disappointed in myself because at the start I didn't ride that well. I didn't have a good feeling with the bike when there was a lot of water on the track and I didn't have the confidence I needed."

The race was held up for 20 minutes after a huge rain shower soaked the Sepang Circuit just moments before the scheduled start.

Once the race was able to begin, with the distance reduced from 20 laps to 19, a group of five riders made a break from the pack: pole man Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Andrea Iannone, Cal Crutchlow and Marc Márquez.

The first man to rule himself out of contention was British rider Crutchlow - a winner last time out in Australia - who went down eight laps from the end. He was followed a few corners later by already-crowned World champion Márquez, although he was able to remount and rejoin the action.

Ducati's Iannone also went down one lap later, leaving Yamaha's Rossi and factory Ducati-mounted Dovizioso in an all-Italian battle for the victory.

A small mistake and a couple of relatively slow laps from Rossi were all Dovizioso needed to become the ninth different winner this season, the second on a Ducati.

Rossi's second place ensures he will finish as runner-up in the Championship. Lorenzo came home third in the race.

Laverty brought his Ducati home in 12th after a difficult race that saw him lose touch with the main group over the opening few laps.

The Ulster ace struggled under braking in the soaking conditions but as the track dried his pace increased, allowing him to recover lost ground and set his best lap times on two of the last three laps.

"I lost so much time in the first six laps," said Laverty. "I was catching the group in front, but there wasn't enough laps remaining to catch them and fight for maybe seventh or eighth. It's a missed opportunity."

The final race of the season is on November 13 at Valencia in Spain.

Belfast Telegraph