The races come thick and fast in the second half of the MotoGP season and Michael Laverty and PBM are trying to close the gap to the other CRT runners. Having started the season in the hunt for points their progress has been thwarted by the continued development of their FTR rivals.
Speaking at Misano Laverty admitted that while his performances have been consistent throughout the year he has now fallen
“When I look at the season I’m always pretty much the same time difference to the leaders,” said the Irishman. “On a fast track it’s about 90s at the end of the race and at a slow track it’s about a minute, so I think that my performance has remained constant but the people around me have moved up and down.
“The people that I beat for points at Jerez-Edwards, Corti, Aoyama and Petrucci-they are a little bit ahead of me at the moment because they’ve improved their machines. When you look at the race results I was around a minute off at Brno and Silverstone. At Silverstone I was dicing with Yonny whereas at Brno he was 20s up the road. So at Silverstone he fluctuated whereas I did the same. Sometime I’m in with a shot but on the overall picture when you look at it sometimes Barbera can be 40s off the leader when it clicks for him and other times he’s battling with me.”
That fight with Hernandez was the first time that Laverty was able to get up close with his teammate, riding the ART bike, and it clearly gave him a huge insight into what needs to be done to improve his own bike as PBM continues pushing development of their machine:e
“Racing with Yonny at Silverstone showed the areas where it’s easier for him. The ART punches out corners so much better than me. I think it’s a combination of chassis, and how the bike initially takes the power, and the ART engine and electronics work. He can do that and he can also stop the bike better than me. So he’s stopping better than me, turning similar to me and then exiting better so with three parts of a corner if he’s doing two of them better than me it’s hard to beat him.
“We need to improve our corner entry and exit from the turn. It was funny at Silverstone because Yonny was quite a bit faster in a lot of sections early in the race but once his tyre went off, for probably about six or seven laps, I could have passed him and opened a gap but I knew that I was never going to catch the guys in front so I didn’t panic to get past him. At the end of the race I felt like I was riding quite well and think could have finished ten seconds ahead of him but I still would have been in no man’s land [behind Corti and Aoyama]. I’m learning all the time and I think that I’ve pinpointed a few areas to improve.”
One area that Laverty learned about at Silverstone was weight distribution. The rookie adjusted his riding style midrace to try and improve the handling of his bike and place more weight over the front of the bike and PBM will continue to work on that this weekend:
“At the end of the race I altered my body position and the balance changed,” continued Laverty .”I’ve always been struggling that when I accelerate that I’m fighting a wheelie and having to play with the back break [to keep the front end down] and losing forward momentum so when I was following Yonny I moved my body forward and the bike started to react better and was a lot more balanced and drove forward better.
“I moved about 30mm forward and it made a big difference. For this weekend we’ve moved the footrest forward and made a bigger step with the seating position and the handlebars. We moved the footpegs forward by 8mm and I’d like to move it further but we have to make it in steps. So we’ve moved everything for tomorrow. I think it will be a benefit for me and when you think of it we’re moving 63kg of body weight about on the bike so it should make a big difference and help the weight transfer issue. So I’m hoping it sets us in a better direction. Tomorrow we’ll try some new exhaust parts as well. We had planned to use them in the Monday but I think we’ll use them tomorrow. We only have one set but looking at the Barcelona test, we used the upgrade exhaust in the test and immediately were better, so we’ll try it tomorrow.”
“We’ll run the ART for the morning, probably three or four exits, and then jump back onto my bike. Yonny will do the same with my bike as well. It’s ideal to have the ART here as it’s the benchmark so to get on and ride it will help see if our electronics are lacking or chassis is lacking. It will be good to do it now that we’ve had 13 rounds and a few tests so it will be good to see how it compares to the Sepang test when I rode it last. It will be good too to see what Yonny thinks of our bike too.”