Eugene Laverty World Superbike title dream in ruins

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki's Eugene Laverty at Donington Park
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki's Eugene Laverty at Donington Park

Eugene Laverty’s World Superbike title hopes suffered a crunching setback after the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki rider crashed twice at Donington Park on Sunday.

Laverty, who made the switch to the British-run team for 2014 after ending last season as the series runner-up behind Tom Sykes, went down at McLeans on lap five in race one before sliding off in the second race at Goddards.

The Toome man remounted to finish 13th in the second race but it was another dismal weekend for the 27-year-old, who also left Assen empty-handed after two spills at the legendary Dutch track.

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes dominated at his home round to clinch a terrific double as the reigning world champion moved back to the points summit, opening a lead of 26 points over Ulsterman Jonathan Rea (pictured), who twice finished sixth on the Pata Honda Fireblade.

A dejected Laverty, who has slumped to tenth place in the championship standings after five rounds and is now 120 points behind leader Sykes said: “It’s been a rough day for sure, I made a mistake at the chicane – I had my knee over the grass and it dug in and threw me off; I didn’t expect that at all.

“In the second race I was just sitting there and didn’t do anything strange or startling, but suddenly the front locked. Our engine does some strange things in corner entry and suddenly that was me down on my backside.

“It’s definitely difficult because I just need some consistency with the bike, but my bike does dome strange things; but for me I made the mistake in race one and at Assen too – I’m getting agitated and I need to stay calm because it’s hard not to get frustrated when things are going tough and I’ve made mistakes on top of that, but in race two I was just riding around when something strange happened and I was down.”

Laverty also experienced a tough spell in 2013 on the Aprilia, which included a double DNF at Aragon in Spain, but bounced back in the second part of the season.

“I need to figure things out and the important thing is that I need to stay calm because I can’t be making any more silly mistakes,” he said.

“The same thing happened at a point last year and I regrouped towards the end so we just need to... try and work through it.”

Sykes had been down in ninth place at the start of race two but forced his way through to take the lead on lap 11 of 23 from team-mate Loris Baz and Sylvain Guintoli into Goddards, pulling away to win by 3.678 seconds from Baz. Guintoli took third, followed by Ducati’s Davide Giugliano Chaz Davies, with Rea sixth.

Aprilia’s Marco Melandri and Alex Lowes on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki crashed at the Melbourne hairpin, remounting to finish 17th and ninth respectively.

In race one, Sykes produced a battling ride after a poor start to overhaul long-time leader and team-mate Baz to clinch victory in the closing stages by 1.538 seconds. Lowes sealed the final rostrum place ahead of Melandri and Davies, with Rea sixth.

Jack Kennedy finished seventh in the World Supersport race.

o Results:

Race 1 – 1 T Sykes (Kawasaki); 2 L Baz (Kawasaki) +1.358s; 3 A Lowes (Suzuki) +6.394s; 4 M Melandri (Aprilia) +11.875s; 5 C Davies (Ducati) +14.514s; 6 J Rea (Honda) +14.708s.

Race 2 – T Sykes; 2 L Baz +3.678s; 3 S Guintoli (Aprilia) +7.376s; 4 D Giugliano (Ducati) +10.827s; 5 C Davies +15.140s; 6 J Rea +17.975s.