Belfast Telegraph

Laverty may have to look outside World Superbikes as his 2019 options diminish


In limbo: Toome’s Eugene Laverty
In limbo: Toome’s Eugene Laverty

By Roy Harris

Just what does Eugene Laverty have to do to get a seat in the 2019 World Superbike Championship?

Partially open doors have been closed in the last week with a complete overhaul for the Ten Kate Honda Team with whom Jonathan Rea made his first strides on the world scene.

The Dutch outfit was a potential back-up plan for Eugene, but they have been replaced by Moriwaki to run the more factory-based Honda team, with the Italian Althea team heavily involved and, more surprisingly, 36-year old former three-time British Superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari being brought in to partner Leon Camier.

A strange decision when you consider that Kiyo was superb in his BSB winning years, but when he went to WSB in 2008 and 2009, 11th was his best finish in the championship with Ten Kate Honda.

He finished ninth in the Japanese Superbike championship this season with Moriwaki and arguably a Japanese rider was required for what is full-on factory effort in 2019.

Eugene was dropped by Shaun Muir Racing after they decided to switch from Aprilia to BMW for the new season and signed ex-World Champion and factory Kawasaki rider Tom Sykes to replace Laverty alongside German Markus Reiterberger.

A new Yamaha team will move into Superbikes for 2019 on the back of winning the 2018 World Supersport championship and they have elected to go with newly crowned Supersport champion Sandro Cortese and former Ducati rider Marco Melandri, a former teammate of Laverty's when they rode for the Aprilia factory, pushing Eugene further down the 'riders without a job' list.

So, what are his options? WSB with a competitive team now looks remote so a move down to World Supersport could be an option, a championship in which he was twice runner-up, or does he look back to British Superbikes where a few competitive rides are still available, including Moneymore-based Tyco BMW, who have two vacant seats to fill for 2019?

Then there is a long shot that Ten Kate may switch to Suzuki for a WSB campaign, but that is as yet not confirmed.

Laverty did ride for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki in 2014 and won the opening WSB race of the season in Australia.

Obviously WSB is where he wishes to continue, as his proven ability puts him amongst the fastest riders in the series, and it is somewhat mystifying that a rider of his calibre is currently on the side-lines ahead of the 2019 season.

Belfast Telegraph


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