Michael Laverty has set himself two major targets as the Tyco BMW rider heads into this weekend’s MCE British Superbike Championship finale at Brands Hatch.
Laverty is seeking his maiden victory of the season on the S1000RR and is optimistic he can scale the top step at the triple-header meeting at the Kent circuit, where the 34-year-old also hopes to seal third place in the championship standings.
The former MotoGP rider has finished on the rostrum at the previous two Showdown rounds at Assen and Silverstone and is eager to carry his momentum into the series final.
Laverty has 20 points to find to bridge the gap to JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s James Ellison in third, but the Toomebridge man is high on confidence as the season nears a conclusion.
“There is definitely still a lot for us to prove at the final round and I am really looking forward to it. I am a bit disappointed in some ways that the season is already drawing to a close as we have only been getting rolling with the Tyco BMW over the last few rounds,” he said.
“It will be a big climax and I have had a third place at Assen and a second place at Silverstone and it would be a nice way to finish the year by standing on the top step of the podium for the first time this season at Brands Hatch.
“I think it is entirely possible; we weren’t too far away in July – we had a reasonable weekend then and the bike is quite a step forward since for me personally,” he added.
“I feel a lot more at home on it. That’s why I am looking forward to the final round and hope we can be strong from Friday practice so that we can have a good go at trying to get on that top step of the rostrum.”
Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes stands on the brink of the title and the Aussie has been in unbeatable form on the YZF-R1, taking 11 wins from the last 13 races to open a lead of 47 points over PBM Kawasaki’s Shane Byrne, who made BSB history last season by clinching a fourth title.
Laverty, though, feels the champion elect may err on the side of caution to secure the title without any last-round drama, opening the door for a different winner to take advantage this weekend.
“I definitely think I can be on the podium but the top step is my ultimate goal. I have two goals for Brands Hatch: one is to win a race and the other is to try and get third in the championship and one of those will take care of the other.
“If I can win races then that third place is entirely possible,” he said.
“I feel that Josh has been strong all year, but he has a championship to try and box off so you would think that he would err on the side of caution and that might give us riders who are chasing him more chance of taking the wins from under him.
“There are a lot of us at a similar level but he has that little bit extra at the moment so it would be nice to get one over on him as he is almost the champion elect; it would be nice to beat him in a head-to-head at Brands Hatch,” he added.
“I have done it before and there is no reason why I can’t do it again.”
The opening BSB race is scheduled for a 3.45pm start on Saturday following final qualifying, with the concluding two Showdown races at 12.30pm and 4pm on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Carrick’s Glenn Irwin will be hoping to haul himself into second place in the Motorpoint British Supersport Championship.
The 25-year-old, set to make the switch to BSB in 2016, was a winner last time out at Silverstone and is only 16 points behind Kyle Ryde ahead of this weekend’s final two races.
Profile Triumph’s Luke Stapleford wrapped up the title at the penultimate round.
The Sprint race takes place on Saturday at 4.30pm with the Feature race on Sunday at 3pm.
In the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 class, new champion Josh Elliott has stated his aim of finishing on a high with a win on the Morello Kawasaki on Sunday (11.40am), with Tyco BMW’s Alastair Seeley also gunning for the spoils.