MotoGP: Eugene Laverty shows his class at Jerez

Eugene Laverty on the Aspar Ducati at Jerez in Spain.

Eugene Laverty on the Aspar Ducati at Jerez in Spain.

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Eugene Laverty’s incredible run of results in the 2016 MotoGP World Championship continued at Jerez in Spain on Sunday, where the Northern Ireland rider sealed a magnificent ninth place.

Laverty, who clinched his best ever result of fourth place in the premier class in Argentina in only his second season in the elite championship, underlined his burgeoning status as a top ten MotoGP contender on the Aspar Ducati as he came home behind Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro and ahead of Hector Barbera on the Avintia Racing Ducati.

The 29-year-old, who also finished in front of British pair Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) – 11th and 12th respectively – could not hide his delight afterwards.

Laverty admitted that he had benefitted from some good fortune in Argentina when he finished outside the podium places in fourth after several riders crashed out, but hailed his Spanish performance as a ‘real result’.

“John [Eugene’s brother] said to me before the race ‘this won’t be like the other ones, there won’t be as many crashes, so get your finger out in the early laps’ and I did just that,” he said.

“The start made a big difference and it’s the first time we had a new clutch on this bike, on Friday, and I made an incredible start, so that paid off.

“This is a real result: Argentina, we were still finding our feet and we had some good luck on our side, but we worked damn hard for this and even at the end we were starting to close on [Pol] Espargaro again, but the clutch was slipping on the last six or seven laps. It was a great race and the bike was working well,” added Laverty, who is targeting more of the same at round five at Le Mans on May 8.

“I’m looking forward to Le Mans: last year, it was about learning the circuit again so I’ve done the groundwork and hopefully we can start fresh on Friday and be on the pace.”

The race was won by Italian legend Valentino Rossi on the Movistar Yamaha, who ended six years of Spanish dominance at Jerez after making a flying start from pole.

Rossi led from start to finish to win from team-mate and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo, with overall championship leader Marc Marquez in third on the Repsol Honda.

The 37-year-old, who took his career tally to 113 race wins with his first triumph of the season, now sits in third place in the standings on 58 points, with Lorenzo second on 64 and Marquez clear with 82.

“I think this was the perfect weekend because we started to go faster from Friday morning,” Rossi said. “We worked very well with the team. I had a good start, we had good pace and I felt good with the bike from the beginning.”

Dani Pedrosa finished a lonely fourth on the second of the Repsol Honda machines followed by Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales.