Eugene Laverty was relieved to have carried his strong pace in Free Practice through to Qualifying as he starts Sunday's race as the best placed Open class machine on the MotoGP grid.
Fast on Friday and chunks of Saturday in Brno, Silverstone and Misano yet unable to convert that into a strong qualifying performance for a variety of reasons, Laverty placed fifth in Q1 at Aragon, meaning he will start the penultimate European round of the season from 15th on the grid.
In what was his second best Saturday showing of his MotoGP career and his first time as top 'Open' machine, Laverty feels the speed and consistency he showed in FP4 underlines his strong race potential.
“Since the last few rounds we've been strong but when it counted it all went to pot,” said the Northern Irishman. “Silverstone and Misano both in qualifying and the race with the weather and traffic it's been difficult. This time I wanted to make sure there was no chance of traffic so I got out there and got clear road. There was no point in following. I can understand riders with a small brain they need to follow but if you know what you're doing then it's better to go alone.”
An impressive eleventh on Friday morning, Laverty struggled to find edge grip in the afternoon as temperatures increased. However a change to the rear of his Open Honda machine aided his concerns, ensuring he was “bang on the pace” in FP4, a session in which he finished 17th.
“We did improve the edge grip today. I felt it was better this morning but probably for the conditions it wasn't needed this morning but it helped the grip. The position wasn't good this morning but I knew it was going to get warmer this afternoon. The priority was to fix the issue from yesterday afternoon and I felt we did that. Once it got warm in FP4 and qualifying we were bang on the pace.
“We changed something in the rear setting that allowed us a little more edge grip. It's not something the Honda has a great deal of in comparison to the other bikes. We know that's something we have to try and catch the others on. In FP4 even with the hard tyre our pace was good. I thought there would be even less edge grip but it was very good.”
The main dilemma facing the 2013 World Superbike runner-up on Saturday evening was rear tyre choice. While the soft offers “sheer grip” the harder provides greater stability. It's a decision he will have made come the close of the day.
“I'm undecided. There is quite a difference for me. I like the stability of the hard tyre but this year we've always opted for the soft one for the sheer grip. I'm not sure right now. I'd say we'll have a sit down in the next hour and have a talk about it. I'll speak to Bridgestone and see what they have to say.”
While clearly pleased with his showing, Laverty stressed the need to convert his showing into a solid race result on Sunday, something that has alluded him until now. In order to do so he is hopeful of a dry race.
“We've been strong in FP4. We've been strong all weekend. The important thing is having a good grid position now. We just need to check the weather forecast to see if there's going to be a downpour on the grid again. That's the one thing that scuppered our plans in the last few Sundays. I remember a time not so long ago when I used to relish conditions like that but I've been a bit of a pussy the last year or two so I need to get my finger out.”