Belfast Telegraph

Eugene Laverty sees red as flag halts his charge and chance of first MotoGP podium

By Paul Lindsay

A red flag incident during yesterday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone potentially cost Eugene Laverty the opportunity of a debut MotoGP podium.

The race ended in victory for Spanish youngster Maverick Vinales - Suzuki's first in nine years - with British rider Cal Crutchlow, a winner last time out in the Czech Republic and the pole setter, second on the LCR Honda.

Toome racer Laverty eventually picked up points for 12th place in the re-started MotoGP encounter at Silverstone aboard his Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati, but the opportunity to join Vinales and Crutchlow as a history maker was gone.

Despite it being a dry race, 12th place was not what Laverty had envisaged, having produced a gargantuan effort to qualify on the second row of the grid in sixth position in soaking wet conditions on Saturday.

But having been involved in a game of pinball with a few of the leading protagonists in a highly charged re-start, which included a paint exchange with old adversary Andrea Iannone and being rammed by Stefan Bradl - who will join Laverty in World Superbike next season - it certainly made for an entertaining afternoon for the Ulsterman.

Recounting his day, Laverty said: "On the first start, the clutch felt really good off the line and I was fifth into turn one. I then got past (Dani) Pedrosa for fourth and then Cal for third.

"When I passed (Valentino) Rossi for second I thought, 'this is going pretty good'."

Unfortunately for Laverty the red flags came out a corner later, leaving him to do it all again. This time, without the blistering start and a less than perfect clutch, he couldn't push past nine-time world champion Rossi for the second time in less than an hour.

"The clutch just didn't feel the same on the second start and then I got hit by a few guys including (Andrea) Iannone in the first few corners," said Laverty a little downhearted.

"I also got locked together with Lorenzo and that sent me backwards.

"If that wasn't enough, Bradl collided with me when he crashed. Thankfully I didn't go down too, but it damaged the rear of my bike and that was it for my race.

"I had to stick my hand in there and pull the rear mudguard out, which isn't nice with the chain and everything else in there spinning around.

"It was tough after that but we kept going and picked up four championship points."

Sixteen years ago a young Italian by the name of Valentino Rossi won his first premier class race at the British Grand Prix at Donington Park, also aged 21.

That particular day he was flanked on the podium by an American - Kenny Roberts Junior - and an Ulsterman, Jeremy McWilliams.

Eugene didn't quite get to make history and stand on the podium, but one wonders in another 16 years, just how many titles 21-year-old Vinales will have won in the premier class in Grand Prix.

Second placed Crutchlow said: "It was a long race but good fun.

"We deserved that result. the crowd deserved it. They've backed me for years.

"Pole and second I'll take that all day long. I expected to be in the top six."

The next race takes place at Misano, in Italy, next Sunday.

Meanwhile, Silverstone will host the 2017 British MotoGP after the track agreed a deal with the Circuit of Wales, it has been announced.

The Welsh venue signed a five-year deal to host MotoGP in 2014 but work on the £315m project has been delayed.

Closer to home, Charles Stuart and Robert English shared the Irish Superbike spoils at Kirkistown on Saturday at the B&D Club promoted event and talented youngster Korie McGreevy was a double winner in the Supersport class.

Belfast Telegraph


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