It's a sign of how Eugene Laverty's season is going when finishing just outside the top ten can be viewed as a disappointment. The Northern Irishman was on course for another strong finish in Le Mans until a technical issue forced him down the order, to finish eleventh.
Fresh from a fighting ninth in Jerez, Laverty was locked in an early race scrap with fellow Ducati men Danilo Petrucci and Hector Barbera until a problem with the bike forced him to slow substantially in the last third of the race.
“It was looking really good at the start but then I had my problem,” said Laverty, who collected five championship points for eleventh place. “It was a matter of bringing it home from there. It's a positive again from Jerez that in qualifying, both in Spain and here, we were 15th or 16th and then here we're in the top ten. That's our real pace. The other guys seem to drop down a bit in pace whereas I can keep that on Sunday.
“It was a matter of bringing it home and staying onboard. I really started to drop off, a few seconds a lap, from where I was. I was in that fight with Petrucci and Barbera and then I dropped back.”
The result was made all-the-more frustrating, as Petrucci, with whom Laverty was battling in the early laps, was able to collect a strong seventh, as Le Mans played host to yet another war of attrition in the MotoGP class.
Having a chance to gauge the strengths of his GP14.2 against Petrucci's GP15 machine, Laverty explained, “That was the thing that was frustrating. It was almost like what I've read in the media because I haven't spent much time riding with the GP15 and '16 bikes. I know they had said that with the new bike they had lost a little bit of braking and gained in the turning. That's clearly it.
“I was gaining on them in the hard braking and then the turning, in corners like six and seven, I can't turn on the side like them. They seem to be able to complete the corner with speed earlier. They're not far away with where they've said they improved that bike. It's frustrating to see that but we're on a two year old bike so we have to do what we can with that.”
Still, considering the Northern Irishman's best result throughout his debut year in the class in 2015 was a single twelfth place, Laverty could see the positives in the weekend as a whole.
“That was a really bad day and we ended up eleventh. OK, the others made mistakes and crashed but it's clear we had the pace for seventh place and that's really positive. Another point scoring finish maintains our run in the championship so we'll keep on doing what we're doing. But it's clear Saturday needs to improve. I need to work on one lap pace so I can start up there and make my life easier in the early laps.”
The results keeps Laverty in the top ten in the world championship. He sits ninth – and the second best placed Ducati – six points behind Barbera.