Belfast Telegraph

Laverty focused amid talk of Superbike return

By Paul Lindsay

Despite mounting speculation that Eugene Laverty will return to the World Superbike Championship next season on an Aprilia, the Monaco-based Ulsterman still has a job to do for the remainder of this year in MotoGP - starting this weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

The Pull&Bear Aspar Ducati rider currently holds 10th place in the championship standings after scoring points in each of the opening nine rounds. And with the MotoGP World Championship making its return to Spielberg in Austria for the first time since June 1997, Laverty will be aiming to make it 10 from 10 tomorrow.

Having already tested at the Austrian track, Laverty explained: "I like the track as it suits our bike and it seems like it is made for the Ducatis. There are a lot of straights, hard acceleration points and hard braking zones, which are the strong points of our bike.

"The test there in July went quite well; we managed to set some consistent times and we worked on different aspects of the bike that we hadn't had a chance to work on up to then, such as variations to the geometry and the front suspension."

The opening practice sessions at the Red Bull Ring took place yesterday with five Ducatis in the top 10 positions, but an early crash for Laverty dented his confidence and he finished the day in 21st.

"The morning session was a bit of a disaster for me," said Laverty. "I had a crash and prior to that we had a technical problem and the bike stopped. When I got back on track the tyres were still cold and I crashed.

"That crash damaged my confidence. In the second session I struggled a bit to feel that confidence again, but in the end I managed to lower my time anyway."

It's going to be a busy time for Laverty, who will have to continue his 2017 contract negotiations - whether MotoGP or World Superbike - while taking in nine races over a three-month period. Straight after this weekend's action in Austria, the MotoGP circus heads to Brno in the Czech Republic for round 11 (August 21).

Three races in September get under way with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on September 4, followed by Misano one week later and Motorland Aragon (September 25).

Three further rounds in October will see the Ulsterman travel to Japan, Australia and Malaysia, before the series comes to what should be an exciting conclusion at Valencia in Spain on November 13.

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