Northern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty has every reason to believe he can maintain his stunning run of form in the World Superbike Championship as the series heads into the penultimate round this weekend at Magny-Cours in France.
Laverty’s recent double at Istanbul Park in Turkey followed by his seventh victory of the season and a third place finish at Laguna Seca last has fired the factory Aprilia rider right into championship contention.
The 27-year-old has collected 91 of the 100 points available at the previous two rounds of the series to reduce the deficit to Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes at the top of the table to 23 points with two rounds remaining.
Incredibly, he retains a solid chance of becoming the country’s first motorcycle world champion since Joey Dunlop in 1986 despite a string of DNFs this year.
The ex-250cc Grand Prix rider - who is in talks with Aspar Aprilia and Pramac Ducati over the possibility of a MotoGP deal for 2014 - told News Letter Sport he believes he can challenge for the wins in the final four races at Magny-Cours this weekend and at Jerez in Spain, which hosts the championship finale on October 20.
“I believe I’ve a better package this year for Magny-Cours and Jerez is our test track, so with four races remaining I feel I can be in contention to win all of them,” said Laverty.
“It’s always difficult to get the 25 points because there are so many strong riders in there wanting it as well, but if I can stay in front of [Tom] Sykes and try and get a few other riders in between us as we did in race two at Laguna Seca, it doesn’t take long to get those points back.”
Laverty has had little time to savour his Laguna success with practice for the French round commencing on Friday, but the Toome man is relishing the chance to strike another blow in the title race so soon after his victory in the States.
“I enjoy going straight to a race but a few others might feel a bit angry [after Laguna] and will be fired up going in to this one - that can work either way,” Laverty added.
“I’ll try and approach every session as I do normally but when it comes to the end of the race I’ll treat it a little bit differently because we can’t afford to be settling for points – we need to make it happen either way.”
Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea - who has signed a new deal with the Ten Kate-backed team for 2014 - remains sidelined through injury.