Parkalgar Honda's Simon Buckmaster thinks Eugene Laverty is Britain and Ireland's best hope to lift a world championship title in 2009 following a strong debut performance with the team in Australia.
Laverty finished fifth at Phillip Island, just behind Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow, but team manager Buckmaster thinks he will be fighting for race wins over the remainder of the season.
Indeed, Buckmaster even went as far as to describe Laverty as the country's best hope for title glory in either the Supersport, Superbike and MotoGP category.
“Eugene represents the best chance of any Irish or British rider to lift a World Championship in 2009 – there's no-one else in World Supersport, World Superbike or MotoGP that has the same opportunity to win. We are going to Qatar expecting to challenge for the victory from now on and not to be off the podium with Eugene.”
Laverty is also expecting to challenge for race wins from now on having led three laps of the race in Phillip Island.
“I am going to Qatar with the intention of challenging at the front right from the start of first practice. It is a different approach than I had for Phillip Island where I targeted the top six as a result; there I was 11th after first practice as I bedded myself in but I don't need to do that anymore, we will start at the front and stay there.
“There is a long straight at Qatar and given the speed of the Parkalgar Honda, I think we will be very competitive. I am comfortable on my CBR600RR and although there are a few circuits on the calendar I have never visited, I aim to get good results now and build momentum and confidence.
“At Qatar I will be happy with a podium but delighted if I can win – I will be disappointed if I am not on the rostrum.”