MotoGP team boss Paul Bird has confirmed that Northern Ireland’s Michael Laverty will compete in motorcycling’s top tier championship in 2013 in the CRT class.
The 31-year-old from Toomebridge was considering a number of offers for next year, including options to remain in the British Superbike Championship with Honda and Shaun Muir Racing, but is now bound for the world stage.
Laverty will line up on the same grid as some of the sport’s greatest names, including seven-time premier class champion Valentino Rossi, who has moved back to Yamaha alongside Jorge Lorenzo following a failed two-year stint at Ducati.
Northern Ireland star Laverty was named on the provisional 2013 MotoGP entry list in the Paul Bird Motorsport team along with Colombia’s Yonny Hernandez, who rode for Avintia in the CRT category this year.
Confirming the news on social networking site Twitter after the publication of the list, Bird wrote: ‘The news is out! Hernandez and Laverty in MotoGP for PBM UK, we will announce it officially when all the contracts are finalised’.
Laverty - who will ride with the number 33 plate - is listed as riding a ‘PBM’ machine, with Hernandez entered on an ART Aprilia, as used by ex-PBM UK rider James Eillison this year.
Kendal man Ellison hasn’t been retained for 2013 and is understood to be considering a return to British Superbikes.
Laverty rode for Samsung Honda in the British Superbike Championship this year, finishing fifth overall.
And although he had the opportunity to remain in BSB next season, the new challenge of a move to the world’s top motorcycling championship appears to have been a temptation he was unable to resist.
BSB champion Shane Byrne had been Bird’s preferred choice to spearhead his MotoGP effort, but Byrne instead opted to defend his title in Bird’s Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team.
He will be joined by Clogher’s Keith Farmer, who has won the British Superstock 600 and 1000 titles in consecutive seasons.
Last weekend, Farmer told the News Letter Laverty would be a solid candidate to lead Bird’s MotoGP project.
“I’d like to see Michael in MotoGP because it would be a great opportunity for him and he has plenty of experience,” Farmer said.
“I know Paul seemed to be happy enough with how the first season went, but it was Dorna [MotoGP promoters] who didn’t want Ellison.”