World Superbikes: Eugene Laverty hoping for 2022 chance with BMW after incomplete season

Eugene Laverty is eager for another chance to stake his claim for a place in next year’s World Superbike Championship with BMW.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 5:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 5:28 pm
Northern Ireland's Eugene Laverty returned to action at Jerez as a replacement for Tom Sykes in the factory BMW squad after missing five straight rounds of the World Superbike Championship.

The Northern Ireland rider finished 11th and 12th at Jerez in Spain at the weekend as Laverty returned to the factory BMW Motorrad team, deputising for Tom Sykes, who was ruled out of round 10 after suffering concussion in a crash the previous weekend at Catalunya.

It was Laverty’s first race back in the series since Donington Park at the beginning of July after his RC Squadra Corse satellite BMW team announced a break from the sport to focus on internal problems.

However, former championship runner-up Laverty missed the next five rounds and admits he doesn’t expect to ride for the Italian-based outfit again this season.

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The 35-year-old had little time to adapt to Sykes’ M1000RR at Jerez, and Laverty was left disappointed by his results after he was hampered by an acceleration issue.

Sykes will undergo a medical on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s round at Portimao in Portugal, when Laverty is says he is ready and waiting to step into the void if the former world champion is ruled out again.

“It’s reasonable but it’s not where I expected to be,” said Laverty of his results at Jerez.

“It was so tough this weekend. I was filling in for Tom, so I was riding Tom’s bike but I expected I would be able to tune in some of my settings and I just never felt like I had what I needed underneath me.

“When I’m on the gas, traction control-wise with power delivery, it wasn’t my bike and it was very disappointing.

“When you’re riding the bike and you can feel the potential, but you know there’s actually a big issue with something happening in the background which we haven’t been able to unearth… we changed a lot this weekend trying to look at our computer screen and trying to plot some points on the graph to try and make it like what I had for the second half of last year and the first half of this year,” Laverty added.

“But something has gone wrong in the background and I can’t accelerate out of the corner; it’s popping and banging, and making all sorts of noises, so it’s so frustrating because in the race I could see those guys were there, but then suddenly I was going backwards. It was disappointing because I know it could have been much more, but that’s how it is.”

Assessing his prospects of joining Michael van der Mark in the official team again this weekend, Laverty said he wished Sykes a speedy recovery, but admits he is also hopeful of being handed another chance to race for a second successive weekend.

“Tom will do a medical on Thursday so it’s convenient enough for me because I live 15 minutes from the track, so I’ll be there at the ready,” he said.

“It’s Tom’s bike and if he’s fit then he’ll ride, but if not then I’ll be on standby. We’re all wishing Tom a speedy recovery of course but I’m a racer and I want to ride a bike again, so I’m hopeful I can be in action again.

“I’ve been on the sidelines and I’ve not been able to showcase what I can do. I feel I could have done more, so that’s frustrating, but I’m hopeful that BMW can see the long game and hopefully I can be part of this project in the future.”

Former 250cc Grand Prix and MotoGP rider Laverty revealed he has been in talks with a number of teams regarding next season, although ideally the Co Antrim man would prefer to remain within the BMW line-up.

“This year has almost been a write-off so my goal is to do 2021 next year,” he said. “I would like to stay with BMW and continue the work we have been doing.

“[Last year] was really difficult, the bike needed some development, but I really feel the bike is ready to move forward and the whole structure is going in the right way, so I would love to be part of the family going forward.

“We’ve been in talks with various teams but the important thing is that I have a stable team; this year was not so stable and in order to move forward and feel confident with the guys around you, you need to be sure that you’re turning up to the tests and turning up to the races, and that’s my goal.”