Belfast Telegraph

Michael relishing new challenge and sure to pass screen test

Media man: Michael Laverty will use all his expertise
Media man: Michael Laverty will use all his expertise

By Roy Harris

The much-anticipated MotoGP season kicks off today with the first free practice sessions at the Doha Circuit in Qatar, and Michael Laverty will be part of the BT Sport team providing commentary and pit lane reporting plus race and rider analysis for the armchair enthusiasts.

Michael decided to pull back from competing full-time in BSB at the end of last season to embark on the media role with BT Sport, having signed a three-year deal.

The Toomebridge man, now based in Wales with wife Jodie Lee, sister of World Superbike factory Ducati star Chas Davies, began racing in Youth Motocross before making the switch to tarmac at Aghadowey back in 1997.

He went on to carve out a terrific career, competing in Irish short circuit, BSB, AMA, World Supersport, MotoGP and European Superstock racing.

He won a record six Sunflower Trophy races, a European Superstock race at Assen in 2002, finished on the podium at the prestigious Bol d'Or endurance race last year, clinched the British Supersport Championship in 2007 and has 10 BSB wins to mention a few of his major achievements.

Does this mean the 37-year-old has finished with his racing career?

"Not totally," he said. "I will be taking on a role with Tyco BMW as Philip Neill's assistant and will compete in at least one BSB round this season and do some testing when my BT Sport commitments allow.

"I will also be doing some endurance racing alongside Danny Webb and Sheridan Morais in the Penz 13.com team and helping out my brother-in-law at World Superbike rounds, so I'll have a full-on season, probably at a race track every weekend."

Michael did some work with BT Sport at MotoGP last year and, coming across as an articulate, knowledgeable commentator, the former competitor has a wealth of experience that makes him ideal for this role.

"I really enjoyed doing the TV stuff last year," Michael said. "But when BT first approached me about going full-time, I hesitated as I was still looking to compete in BSB.

"I'd had a couple of tough years and when I sat down and really thought about it, I thought I might as well do something I enjoy.

"Working alongside Keith Huewen, Suzi Perry, Neil Hodgson, Colin Edwards and Gavin Emmett is something I'm really looking forward to at the 19 MotoGP rounds. At the end of the day I'm happy with the decision."

The MotoGP action from Doha begins on BT Sport 2 from 10.30am this morning with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) looking to defend his title.

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