Michael Laverty will rejoin the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship fray in 2010 after inking a deal to ride for Relentless Suzuki by TAS – and two years on from his previous stint with the team, he is optimistic of being able to compete for the crown.
Laverty will partner reigning runaway National Superstock 1000 Champion Alastair Seeley at the County Londonderry-based operation, after spending a disjointed 2009 campaign racing in the AMA Superbike Championship across the Pond in America and in selected World Supersport Championship (WSS) meetings.
For 2010, however, the rider who pipped team-mate Ian Lowry to British Supersport Championship glory three years ago with Relentless Suzuki is back on home turf – and as he readies himself to take on all comers, he is palpably confident that the team he left at the end of 2008 is a far more competitive proposition now than it was then.
“I'm delighted to be back in BSB with the Relentless Suzuki team,” enthused the 28-year-old Northern Irishman whose elder brother John will be amongst his rivals at Buildbase Kawasaki. “I really think we can have a great season. I have raced all of the boys before apart from Yukio [Kagayama] and Josh [Brookes], and I honestly believe there is no clear favourite for the title and that we have the chance to shine. With all to play for and with factory parts, we have a really strong package to fight for the title.
“I had a bit of a strange year in 2009, starting in America with a few rounds and then ending up riding for various teams in the World Supersport Championship; it was the wrong time to go to the States, but that is water under the bridge now. I have to admit that when I tested the Relentless Suzuki with the team last year at Kirkistown, I wished I had stayed!
“I know that the team have made some real steps forward over the last year, and I come back to familiar territory, knowing the tracks and the whole of the TAS team. I believe that the Relentless Suzuki has stepped up a notch from when I last raced it in BSB in 2008, and with factory parts we have a really strong package to fight for the title.”
“It's a great opportunity for me to move up to Superbike,” added Seeley, who swept comfortably to the Superstock laurels last year off the back of a stunning run of nine consecutive race victories, before going on to make two end-of-season BSB appearances for Relentless Suzuki, impressing by taking the chequered flag tenth at Silverstone and 13th at Oulton Park. “The team have a testing programme in-place and it looks like that will kick off in March, so now I am training hard with cardio and boxing to get myself in the best possible fitness before we begin testing.”
Suzuki has not clinched the BSB crown since 2004, when John Reynolds completed the job for Crescent.