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Laverty: We've made people take notice
5 March 2013
MotoGP newcomer Michael Laverty says he has been surprised by the reaction of some onlookers in the world championship paddock after impressing during pre-season tests at Sepang.
Laverty served notice of his potential in the CRT class at the first Sepang test at the beginning of February, when he finished second quickest on the PBM ART behind Randy de Puniet and ahead of the Frenchman's Aspar team-mate Aleix Espargaro.
The 31-year-old finally had the chance to ride his new PBM machine at the second Sepang test in Malaysia, which is powered by an Aprilia motor and features Magneti Marelli electronics and a bespoke frame by GPMS Technology.
Laverty only managed a handful of significant laps on the third and final day of the shakedown as his PBM team ironed out some teething issues, but the experienced former British Superbike race winner's fastest lap was within 1.6s of De Puniet's class-topping CRT time on the Aspar.
His pace has raised a few eyebrows and Laverty says he has taken a degree of satisfaction from proving some of his doubters wrong.
“A lot of people in the MotoGP paddock seemed to be surprised by our pace which is nice in some ways but also insulting in others as well, because it's as though they didn't realise the level of the front guys in BSB,” he said.
“I think they thought that me coming to MotoGP might be a bit of a joke really, so it's nice that people are saying I've surprised the paddock by jumping on the bike and being at the level of De Puniet [at the first Sepang test] because he's been in MotoGP for years.
“But I'm happy enough to keep the surprises coming and I've a lot to learn yet and more improvement to come,” he told the Belfast News Letter
Laverty, fifth in last year's British Superbike Championship, is also confident he can at least challenge the top CRT pair of De Puniet and Espargaro for honours in his rookie year in MotoGP.
“When I did the deal to come to MotoGP I was hoping that I'd be in a position to be able to challenge for top CRT honours but until I got on track to see what our level was like then I didn't really know,” he said.
“But after the first test at Sepang in early February when I finished as second CRT after just three days of learning everything I felt I could definitely have a good shot at lifting the CRT title.
“But I still hadn't rode the new bike at that point and I was praying that it would feel as good as the Aprilia package straight off,” added Laverty.
“Now I feel a lot more positive and confident that I can even go to circuits that I don't know and challenge De Puniet and Espargaro and Colin Edwards too, who is looking quite strong on the new FTR bike.
“Those guys are going to be the main ones this year but I do believe now that I've got a package to definitely challenge them and hopefully upset a few of the factory Ducatis whenever they are having a bad day.”