Eugene Laverty’s plan of attack this weekend at the final round of the World Superbike Championship is simply to try and win both races at Jerez in Spain and hope that series leader Tom Sykes encounters some bad luck.
Laverty is 37 points behind the English rider with two more races to run and Sykes could secure the crown with a finish of third place or higher in race one, regardless of Laverty or his Aprilia team-mate Sylvain Guintoli’s results.
The 27-year-old from Toomebridge has won seven races this season, but a string of non-finishes have had a detrimental impact on his chances, including five DNFs in the first part of the season.
To his credit Laverty has come on strong in the second half of the campaign and has finished on the rostrum seven times in the last seven races, taking a double at Istanbul Park in Turkey and a brilliant victory in race two at Laguna Seca in the USA.
The title is undoubtedly Sykes’ to lose this weekend, but Laverty won’t give up the ghost until the championship is mathematically out of his reach.
“It’s important to try and win both races because we need to hope for a little bit of bad luck for the championship leader. If he [Sykes] had a DNF it would be all to play for,” Laverty told the News Letter.
“I’d obviously be disappointed not to win [the title] but we’ve come back strong in the second part of the season and we’ve had seven podiums in a row now.
“Too many non-finish earlier in the year have cost us and we had a lot of mechanical issues, plus a few errors on my part as well and we’ve got to learn from that.
“I had five DNFs in the first part of the season, which was crazy,” he added.
“Sunday just didn’t seem to be our day at that point because we’d run pretty fluently on the Friday and Saturday and then on the Sunday we’d have issues, some of which led to crashes.
“It’s been unfortunate from that point of view and it was clearly too many. But we’ve turned that around in the second half of the year and we’ve been going much better.”
Sykes was a runaway winner at the penultimate round of the series at Magny-Cours in France, with Laverty and Guintoli thrilling fans in race two as they engaged in a tit for tat battle for the runner-up spot, which eventually went to Laverty after the race was red-flagged.
Only a point separates the pair ahead of this weekend’s final round and the Aprilia duo are locked in battle for the championship runner-up spot.
“It was good fun racing with Sylvain in France. It was aggressive, but clean racing. We were overtaking each other so many times because we could see the clouds overhead and we knew the rain could was on the way,” Laverty said.
“Sure enough on the last lap the rain did come and we both tipped off at the hairpin.
“It was entertaining else and eventually we got the podium in the end.”