Michael Laverty says he has ‘turned a corner’ after the Tyco BMW rider topped Friday’s MCE British Superbike free practice sessions at Silverstone.
The 34-year-old, who returned to BSB after two seasons in MotoGP, has been instrumental in the development of the S1000RR for Ulster team TAS Racing this year following team boss Philip Neill’s decision to switch to the German manufacturer after a long association with Suzuki.
Laverty has yet to register a win this season but his confidence was boosted after a strong ride to third place in the opening Showdown round at Assen last month and the 2007 British Supersport champion now feels ready to challenge for the top step at the Northamptonshire circuit.
He headed the second free practice session by 0.074 seconds from championship leader Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) with James Ellison on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki third fastest, 0.473 seconds off Laverty’s benchmark of 2m 05.370s.
Reigning champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne, who trails Aussie Brookes by 28 points at the top of the standings, was fifth quickest on the PBM Kawasaki and half-a-second down on Laverty as he ended the day behind American rider John Hopkins, who went fourth fastest on the Moto Rapido Ducati as the top seven riders all dipped inside the existing Silverstone lap record.
A confident Laverty said: “It’s been what I expected but I didn’t want to talk overly confident before I came here this weekend. I knew with what we learned at Assen and how much more comfortable I was on the motorbike, I could come here and be strong and we will be at Brands again.
“We have turned a corner and I know I can ride it one hundred per-cent. I feel at home on the Tyco BMW now and even in this morning’s opening session after just four laps we went to the top of the charts.
“We have the pace and I think we can take the fight to Brookesy this weekend.”
Laverty’s team-mate, Tommy Bridewell, crashed in FP1 and finished 15th fastest in FP2.
Meanwhile, Josh Elliott topped the leaderboard during opening qualifying for the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 race.
The Morello Kawasaki rider is locked in battle for the title with Alastair Seeley and holds a lead of 17 points over the Tyco BMW star with two races left.
Seeley was third fastest and one second down on Elliott’s time.
In the Motorpoint British Supersport class, Gearlink Kawasaki’s Glenn Irwin was fastest in FP2 by 0.204 seconds from Luke Stapleford (Profile Triumph).
Marshall Neill was 13th and David Allingham 23rd. Keith Farmer has been ruled out through injury.