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Michael Laverty in contention on CRT debut
6 February 2013
PBM rookie Michael Laverty finished his second day as a MotoGP rider with the sharp end of the CRT field already within reach.
The BSB race winner knocked over one-second from his opening day lap time and outpaced five fellow CRT race riders - including team-mate Yonny Hernandez.
Laverty did not have the opportunity to ride in any post-2012 season tests and is also learning the Sepang circuit, making his performance all the more impressive.
“It's a lot to learn in a short space of time,” said Laverty, speaking to
after rain brought an early end to Wednesday's action.
“I spent all day yesterday getting comfortable with the tyres and brakes. We had achieved our target lap time from yesterday, then went out this morning and immediately went even quicker.
“I was quite surprised as I didn't feel that I was pushing any harder, but I think it was a combination of a fresh tyre and cooler temperatures, so the lap time came without much effort.
“We chipped away and improved the bike further during the day and stayed on the same tyre. I'm a little disappointed that the rain came as there was definitely another chunk of time in there if we'd put the new tyre in.”
Had the rain not arrived, Laverty feels he had a fighting chance of finding the 0.6s needed to surpass Karel Abraham (ART), Hector Barbera (Avintia) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Avintia).
A further 1.1s would have put Laverty ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) and behind only Aspar riders Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro, who dominated the new privateer class during its inaugural season.
“I'm quite happy where we are at,” confirmed Laverty. “It's been a big learning curve, but we are there or thereabouts already. An achievable target today would have been third CRT behind the two Aspar bikes, had I stuck a new tyre in and got a lap time out of it.
“I'm not particularly chasing lap times just yet, but it's nice to know that I'm not sitting here thinking 'where am I going to find all that time?'
“Part of the improvement is increased track knowledge, plus understanding the limits of the tyres and carbon brakes. Faith in the electronics as well - how far you can let the Bridgestone's slide before the traction kicks in.
“I feel more at home every time I leave pit lane and can push the boundaries further. Once we get another second and a half then we'll be near the limit and trying to find the last few tenths.”
Espargaro and de Puniet were two-seconds from Laverty on Wednesday, a gap Laverty will be looking to cut on Thursday.
“We've still got a fair bit to test. We haven't changed too much on the chassis yet,” said Laverty of his final day plans. “Yesterday I spent all day on the electronics, taking traction control and anti-wheelie out.
“I found it quite intrusive, so got rid of it in a lot of areas. I like to use the rear brake. But if I was doing that and the electronics were kicking in, it was cutting too much power.
“So I was trimming away the electronics yesterday and then today we've started playing with the chassis and suspension. We've got quite a lot of harshness and chatter at the moment, so if we can improve that I can push a little harder and find some more time.
“We're not on the strongest engine available to us, so we're not looking to go all out, but if we can chip a bit more off the lap time and find a bit more of a comfort level for me in riding closer to limit. That's the goal.”
Laverty, whose best Wednesday time was a 2m 5.417s, added: “Hopefully we can get down to a low 2m 4s or high 2m 3s. I'd be quite content with that. We'll see how it goes.”
The Ulsterman - who, like Gresini's Bryan Staring, has no prior grand prix experience - is riding an ART at Sepang this week, with his Aprilia-powered PBM machine expected to be ready for at the second Malaysian test later this month.
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