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Laverty gets first laps with PBM MotoGP machine
27 February 2013
Michael Laverty gave the new PBM MotoGP machine its track debut with 19-laps during Wednesday's second day of the second Sepang test.
The MotoGP rookie - an impressive second in the CRT class using team-mate Yonny Hernandez's spare ART bike on the final day of the first Sepang test - had been forced to sit out Tuesday while the finishing touches were applied to the PBM bike.
Assembly work and system checks continued when testing resumed on Wednesday morning, mostly revolving around matching the Magneti Marelli standard ECU system to the ART engine that powers the PBM's bespoke chassis.
All of the other (complete) ART machines use Aprilia's own electronics.
Laverty finally took to the track shortly after midday, making a brief three lap shakedown before returning to the pits as he and the team worked on 'the basics'.
That pattern was repeated for the rest of his 19 laps, the best of which was 7.4s from the top, 1.5s from the next slowest CRT rider and 3.8s behind Laverty's best on the ART.
“The first impressions of the chassis are quite good, but it's difficult to say for sure until you push it everywhere,” Laverty told Crash.net
. “But in some of the turns where I was having chatter last time [with the ART] I don't seem to be having it.
“Obviously I'm not going nearly as fast, but I'm trying to push it in there to see if I can get the same sensations and I'm not. So there are some positives definitely, but it's just quite frustrating how much of the little tedious things have to be done before the bike is race ready.
“At the moment we're sorting the basics, like the upshift. Only in the last session was it actually cleanly going up the gears and even then the engine was dying down after each shift. So we're not able to push, we're just getting the bike to work and solving all the gremlins – and doing it in front of everyone.
“But we've got 19 laps of data for the boys to work with and if we can get the bike running right tomorrow, then we can maybe get an idea of how far we are off the pace of the ART.
“I think we should be quite close once everything is working.”
After such an impressive debut on the ART at the first test, Laverty admitted he can't help but wonder what he may have done with that proven machine this week.
“It's a little bit frustrating because I can see they've improved the Aprilia package on Yonny's side of the garage and as a rider you always want to be chipping away and improving.
“But I'm really glad I did the first test on the ART because if this was my baptism in MotoGP and then people were seeing me seven seconds off the pace...
“At least I've had the three good days here [at the first test] and I know what I could be doing on the ART. I know we'd be competitive. We've just got some work to do with our own package now and hopefully we can get it to the level of the ART soon.”
Thursday will mark the final day of 2013 pre-season testing at Sepang, with only one further official outing at Jerez in March before the Qatar season opener.