Michael Laverty says he heads into the 2016 MCE British Superbike championship 'quietly confident' but knows he needs to make an early advantage on his rivals pay in his title bid.
The former MotoGP rider is one of few title contenders who hasn't switched teams or machinery over the winter by sticking with Tyco BMW with whom he battled to fourth place in last year's Showdown.
With 2015 champion Josh Brookes moving to World Superbikes, Shane Byrne switching from Kawasaki to Ducati machinery and James Ellison getting to grips with the new Kawasaki ZX-10R all those in front of him last season have new challenges while Laverty aims to pick up where he left off with the BMW S1000RR.
Having returned to the British championship last year after a stint in MotoGP Laverty made slow but steady progress up the pecking order throughout the year and significantly claimed all his rostrum results in the Showdown rounds.
As a result, the Northern Irishman is eager to carry on that momentum having claimed victory in the last race of 2015.
“Last year I scraped in there but this year we want to be collecting podium credits from the early rounds so we go in with a fighting chance rather than having to claw points back,” Laverty said.
Assessing his rivals, Laverty expects the likes of Byrne, Leon Haslam and Ryuichi Kiyonari to improve as the campaign develops and is targeting the all-important podium credits from the first round to maximise his opportunity with an early advantage.
“I think it is true and James Ellison is in a slightly similar boat albeit with the new Kawasaki,” he explained. “That is why I am pretty relaxed because I know what I can do with the package and I know how strong it is from the last two rounds last year. I know we are going to be on the money so I'm quietly confident.
“The Showdown is what it is but there is still a lot of podium credits which make the difference at the end of the year so we are going to be working hard on the early rounds to pick up those podium points.
"Then it comes down to the last three rounds, we just got to make sure we do our part in the first nine rounds with lots of credits to our name.”
Despite opting not to unleash the full potential at the official Silverstone BSB test day due to the adverse conditions, Laverty narrowly missed out on top spot after Haslam bettered his time with his final lap of the day.