Eugene Laverty headed into the winter break with a spring in his step following his maiden test with the factory BMW Motorrad team.
Laverty joins Yorkshireman Tom Sykes in Shaun Muir’s squad for the 2020 World Superbike Championship after the Northern Ireland man was the sole rider for Italian outfit Team Go Eleven this season, when he rode the new Ducati V4-R.
The 33-year-old was hit by injury problems following a crash in practice at Imola in Italy, which left him nursing two broken wrists.
Laverty missed four rounds of the championship as a result and ended the season in a lowly 15th position in the standings.
The Toomebridge man, who now lives in Monaco, secured a coveted factory ride for next season and rode the BMW S1000RR for the first time at Jerez in Spain on Thursday and Friday, ending the test in 10th position overall.
Laverty has also renewed his partnership with highly respected crew chief Marcus Eschenbacher, with whom he enjoyed some of the best results of his career in World Superbikes in 2012 and 2013.
Giving his first impressions of the BMW, Laverty said he was particularly impressed with the chassis performance of the German machine at Jerez.
“Overall, it was a good test. Riding the bike I can tell this is the best chassis I’ve ever ridden,” he said.
“The way the bike turns and enters the corner is incredible. It’s surprising just how physical it is to ride right now. We have to get the power under control for the corner exit.
“Once I can get that it will be even more rideable. Right now I can wrestle it for one lap if we wanted to get a lap time but for test that is not necessary. So we’ve been working and just trying to tame the beast a little bit so we can get a bike that is going to be comfortable for 20 laps,” Laverty added.
“The chassis is incredible and that’s the important thing. The base of the bike is good, now it’s just another fine-tuning of the electronics.”
On his reunion with Eschenbacher, Laverty was fulsome in his praise of the German, who worked in MotoGP in recent seasons with the factory KTM and Aprilia teams.
“I’ve been very fortunate during my career to have worked with two of the best crew chiefs in the paddock, namely Marcus Eschenbacher in 2012 and 2013 and then Phil Marron from 2014 to 2018,” he said.
“I enjoyed some of the best years of my career together with Marcus and so I’m excited to have him back in my corner again as I begin this new chapter.
“No one knows a motorcycle better from top to bottom and that’s why I fought so hard to get him onboard to make this BMW into a World Championship-winning bike.”
Five-time world champion Jonathan Rea topped the times at Jerez in the final winter test of 2019.
Rea was 0.8 seconds ahead of Loris Baz (Ten Kate Yamaha), with Michael van der Mark third on the Pata Yamaha ahead of Alex Lowes, who is Rea’s new Kawasaki teammate for next season.
“Overall it was pretty good. I had good motivation for this test,” Rea said.
“The biggest thing was in my riding position on the bike and getting used to the rear brake lever on the handlebar, plus some different engine braking.
“We are where we should be and I am really happy to sign off on an incredible 2019.”
British Superbike champion Scott Redding was fifth fastest on the Aruba.it Ducati with BMW’s Sykes sixth.