Michael Laverty may have had a difficult start to the season in Qatar, the Irishman jumped the start and suffered a ride through penalty as a result, but his race pace gave him plenty of encouragement.
The PBM rider, speaking exclusively to Crash.net, spoke about his season opener and how he felt that even though he finished in 16th position that it was one of his stronger showings in MotoGP:
“It was frustrating in a lot of ways because there were points to be had and 14th was on for sure because our pace was as good as Petrucci’s,” said Laverty. “But it was positive to turn around a difficult weekend and have what was probably one of the better races I’ve had for a long time. Unfortunately though you don’t see it in the results because there was a 30s ride through penalty. I felt like I got the most out of it though and rode to 100% and in this game you almost set your own targets.
“I know that I rode well and got close to the maximum out of it. It’s frustrating though because we finished 16th instead of 14th which isn’t a lot of difference but points aren’t easy to come by for us. It was a stupid mistake on the start that caused us not to get them. I knew that the bike had moved on the start but I purposely kept to the back and hoped that they’d let me away with it but I came around the first lap and saw the lights on the dash and knew that I’d been done. So I approached it like a test and just cracked on and had good pace. I caught di Meglio so it was nice to lose 30s and not finish last.”
While his race performance was strong in Qatar overall it was a very challenging race weekend with numerous issues affecting the PBM bike to such an extent that Laverty didn’t make it out on track for FP1. This weekend however he is confident that the team should be able to hit the ground running after COTA was one of their stronger races of last season:
“I’m looking forward to this weekend. We were quite good here last year for the second race on the bike and we finished 16th but had the pace to catch and pass Edwards, Barbera, Corti and all the CRT’s except for Espargaro and de Puniet so it was quite a good weekend for us. The bike seems to be in a better position than last year so I think that we should be one second faster and maybe dip into the 2m06s which would be a pretty strong pace.
“The weak area that we had in Qatar, with the long corners, doesn’t really affect us here because there isn’t so many of them here. There’s the triple right but you can steer it with the rear through there to finish the turn. Around here we should be in a reasonable position with the bike and overall it should be a stronger weekend than Qatar.”
The Circuit of the America’s is famous for it’s first corner and when asked about the challenge presented by the corner Laverty joked that “It’s steep!” before going on to say:
“It’s good though because it helps you stop and it’s actually a nice sensation because you can go in so deep and scrub off speed so it’s different to anywhere else. I passed some people into there last year and because it’s a dead stop area if you’re close enough you can put it up there and take a punt. It’s very easy to just miss the apex though and the other person can come back underneath you. It kind of flattens out just before the apex so you release the brake a little bit and unload the fork as you come over the top. Last year it was very slick there and would push you out but as it rubbered in it was better.”
The opening section of the lap sees a season of interconnected left-right sequences that provide riders with a unique challenge of threading the needle while changing direction into each corner:
I”t’s very physical through the opening section because you go from the left to the right a few times. It’s hard for the first timers, like Broc, to find the line because if you go in deep and over the top on one curve it can mess up the next three turns so you’re chasing to get back online. It’s difficult but the biggest thing is the physicality of changing left to right there for 20 laps. But by the third part it opens out a bit more, the first two are nearly like flip-flops where you put all your weight to change from one side to the other, and then it opens out and gets more flowing. I like it and the more you get into it the more fun it is.”