Portimao next up for top gun Eugene Laverty

Eugene Laverty on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000
Eugene Laverty on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000

Newly-crowned Irish Motorcyclist of the Year Eugene Laverty will continue his pre-season testing programme on Monday at Portimao in Portugal.

Laverty, who finished as the World Superbike Championship runner-up in 2013 for Aprilia, has switched camps to the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team this year.

The Toome man, who scooped the top gong at the Adelaide Motorcycle Awards at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast on Friday, has already completed a two-day shakedown on the Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 at Almeria in Spain last Thursday and Friday.

He was unable to travel to Northern Ireland for the awards bash as a result of his testing commitments with Suzuki, but Laverty received the coveted Joey Dunlop trophy at his home in Monaco prior to the star-studded event, which was attended by special guests including World Supersport champion Sam Lowes, Ian Hutchinson and MotoGP rider Michael Laverty, who accepted the Blackhorse Short Circuit Rider of the Year award on his brother Eugene’s behalf.

Toome man Laverty and his new team-mate, reigning MCE British Superbike champion Alex Lowes, each suffered small crashes at Almeria, but escaped unscathed.

Series rookie Lowes’ fastest lap was seventh tenths of a second slower than Kawasaki ace and World Superbike champion Tom Sykes, who was also testing in Spain with team-mate Loris Baz.

Laverty’s time wasn’t made public, although Crescent Suzuki revealed that Lowes was the quicker of the pair at Almeria.

Team boss Paul Denning said: “The new staff, new riders and long-term Crescent guys have gelled together superbly and the working atmosphere is really positive.

“Eugene was far-happier with the ECU strategy and made big steps forward. His pace was a little-off Alex’s but it’s clear that he is working methodically to find the right feeling before he pushes to the limit.

“We are really encouraged by Eugene’s impression of the Suzuki’s potential and his confidence in what can be achieved,” he added.

“Alex continues to impress on all levels - with consistent speed, very few mistakes and clear technical feedback. He is willing to adapt and doesn’t expect the perfect motorcycle; he goes fast whatever he’s given.

“A best-lap of 1m 34.7s on a race tyre is nearly two-seconds faster than we achieved at the start of 2013 and is a positive sign that he will be a contender this season.”

Laverty has enjoyed plenty of success at Portimao in the past and the Northern Ireland rider believes the two-day test will give him a clear indication of the Suzuki’s potential.

“We’ll face our rivals on a track where I’ve won during the past two seasons and that should give us an idea of where we’re at,” he said.

“The team have been working flat out lately and they’ve done a fantastic job to deliver updates in a short space of time.”