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Laverty has no fear on bittersweet return to Jerez track


Scene of the fall: Eugene Laverty returns this weekend to Jerez where he crashed last November

Scene of the fall: Eugene Laverty returns this weekend to Jerez where he crashed last November

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Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez

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Scene of the fall: Eugene Laverty returns this weekend to Jerez where he crashed last November

Eugene Laverty's return to the Jerez circuit in Spain this weekend for round four of the MotoGP World Championship will be bittersweet, as he looks to keep his Aspar Ducati in the points for the fourth consecutive time this season.

The Toomebridge racer currently holds ninth place in the championship standings with his Aspar Ducati team, following a brace of 12th placed finishes in Qatar and Austin, with a fairytale fourth placed sandwiched in between in Argentina.

But it was at Jerez in November, just days before his wedding, that he decided to throw his new Grand Prix Ducati at the Spanish scenery, resulting in a fractured radius in his left arm and a dislocated shoulder the stand out injuries.

Unfortunately for Laverty it wasn't his only unscheduled pre-season dismount but, as we have come to expect from the softly spoken Monaco-based Ulsterman, he's made of sterner stuff.

And since the introduction of a new improved engine for his GP.14.2, which is basically a 2014 model Grand Prix Ducati, the diminutive former World Superbike number two has shown everyone that he may just be worth that coveted starting position on the MotoGP grid.

Looking ahead to the weekend, Laverty said: "We've enjoyed a good start to the season at the three flyaway races and now I'm excited to return to Europe to tracks that I know well from my time racing Superbikes."

The 29-year-old's double win at Jerez back in 2013 for the factory Aprilia World Superbike team, is only something he could dream of this weekend in MotoGP. But what it does show is that Laverty is a capable performer, and a top ten result in surely not outside his reach or ability.

Currently holding third place in MotoGP's Independent Team and Rider standings behind Pol Espargaro [fourth in the overall standings] and fellow Ducati pilot Hector Barbera, Laverty explained.

"Jerez is a track that I really like and I'm confident we can achieve a strong result.

"I feel that qualifying is where I can improve a lot and I will push hard to make it into Q2 on Saturday."

With his confidence back firing on all cyclinders after the opening three races, where he has equalled or bettered his best result from 2015, Laverty said confidently: "If we can start from the first few rows then it will give us a big advantage during the early part of the race.

"We're currently sat ninth in the championship and I will be sure to fight to maintain that top 10 position all season long." 

The Jerez Circuit provides the ideal scene for the MotoGP World Championship's return to Europe this weekend.

The Spanish track is celebrating its 30th anniversary of Grand Prix racing since the first edition back in 1987.

With the exotic locations of Losail, Termas de Río Hondo and COTA already accounted for this season, the 'Cathedral' of Spanish motorcycle racing is a classic venue that the riders always enjoy.

Honda's Marc Márquez currently holds an advantage at the top of the standings which almost amounts to a race win, 21 points over his closest rival Valentino Rossi. The Andalusian circuit also plays host to the first post-race test of the season next week.

Closer to home, the 56th Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 Road Races gets under way today with practice and qualifying. Roads close at 3.30pm with top names including Ryan Farquhar, William Dunlop and Dan Kneen in action.

Belfast Telegraph