Michael Laverty feels his BMW machinery is lagging behind the likes of Kawasaki and Yamaha and says in the MCE British Superbike championship any weaknesses are inflated due to the strong depth of quality competition.

The former MotoGP rider has returned to BSB after two years away and his comeback has got off to a stuttering start. After the opening two rounds the 33-year-old languishes in 14th place in the championship standings, 66 points off pace-setter Shane Byrne.

Much like his ex-MotoGP team-mate Broc Parkes, who both rode for Paul Bird Motorsport in the GPs last season, life adapting to BSB with a new bike and new team hasn't been a smooth transition.

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"The BMW reacts really differently compared to a Japanese bike or an Italian bike," Laverty said. "You try to use your experience from riding an older BMW but it isn't easy. It's still a learning process. When you struggle to make progress it really eats at you."

The Northern Irish rider, who made the Showdown for three consecutive years (2010, 2011 and 2012) before stepping up to MotoGP, feels because of the high amount of quality on the BSB grid any small problems are heavily punished more than any other motorbike series in the world.

"This championship has done quite well to create parity across the different manufacturers which keeps everyone competitive which is good," he added. "It also means if you are having an off day you can be down in 20th place.

"It is the only championship I can think of like that, so I feel I'm not that far off really. Maybe 1% but I'm right down in 20th which is tough. It certainly keeps you on your toes."

Despite his early season problems with the Tyco BMW, Laverty is confident he can use the BSB format to his advantage to create a late season charge to the front.

The rider is targeting a return to the Showdown which sees the top six riders all start on 500 championship points for the final three rounds. Each rider is awarded podium credits racked up over the season (5 points for a win, 3 for a second and 1 for a third).

Therefore, if Laverty and his Tyco squad can close the gap in performance between the Kawasaki Zx-10R and his BMW S1000R and make the Showdown, he sees no reason why he can't challenge for the BSB crown.