PBM's Michael Laverty pulled off one of the biggest surprises at the Sepang test when he split the class-leading Aspars at the top of the CRT timesheets - on just his third day in MotoGP!
The BSB race winner arrived in Malaysia without any previous testing and faced a daunting list of 'debuts' - led by the ART bike with Bridgestone tyres, carbon brakes and Aprilia electronics, plus the two-minute Sepang track.
Laverty set about the task in a calm, methodical manner - lowering his lap time by one-second on day two as he rose to seventh in the CRT class. Laverty moved ahead of team-mate Yonny Hernandez (preparing for his second MotoGP season) in the process.
With the Aprilia-powered PBM bike still being built, Laverty was riding the same ART as Hernandez - and by the end of his second day in MotoGP the Ulsterman already had his sights set on 'best of the rest'' behind the Aspar riders
, who dominated last year's inaugural CRT category.
But he did even better than that.
While most improved by less than half-a-second on the final day, and some lapped slower, Laverty - brother of Factory Aprilia WSBK star Eugene - found 1.5sec.
That allowed him to rocket eight places up the Thursday timesheets to second CRT, ahead of former MotoGP podium finisher Randy de Puniet and behind only the Frenchman's Aspar team-mate Aleix Espargaro.
Laverty's pace was good enough for 15th (out of 27 riders) on the final day rankings, or 13th if the Yamaha and Honda test riders are discounted.
“Not so bad at all is it?” smiled Laverty, speaking to Crash.net
outside the PBM pits in Sepang.
“I knew yesterday that I should have done 2m 4s. We came back today with the bike as it was, put fresh rubber in and straight away were in the '4s - and stayed in them all day with the same tyre.”
Laverty's best time, a 2m 3.874s, was set on the 40th of his 47 Thursday laps.
“The track just cooled slightly and we improved a few tenths, but there was definitely a lot more to be had.
“I'm really happy. You always aim high, but to finish as the second CRT is well above expectation. We're coming good, and still improving every time we go out on track. It's perfect!