Yamaha Sterilgarda has completed its 2011 World Superbike Championship rider line-up with the signing of World Supersport title contender Eugene Laverty.
The Irishman makes the leap to the premier Superbike series after two seasons spent contesting the WSS title, the move scuppering rumours that he was eyeing the Moto2 World Championship in 2011.
Following in the footsteps of MotoGP-bound Cal Crutchlow, the man he lost the WSS title to in 2009, he will replace James Toseland in the team and join former MotoGP runner-up Marco Melandri in an all-new line-up.
Crediting Yamaha with saving his career after a pair of guest outings with the manufacturer in World Supersports two years ago prompted a full-time switch from the 250GP series, Laverty is thrilled to be linking up with the manufacturer again.
“It's great to have a contract signed at this stage while still fighting for the title in the Supersport class. I desperately want to win this year before moving on,” he said. “When I rode the Yamaha YZF-R6 in World Supersport in 2008 I was having a tough time in 250s, it's nice that Yamaha brought me to the fore and are now giving me the opportunity within superbike.
While a move to Superbikes will represent a challenge for Laverty – who has plied his trade mostly on Supersport and prototype machinery in the past -, he is relishing the opportunity to join a front-running WSBK team.
“Ben Spies winning the championship in 2009 and Cal Crutchlow now stepping up and winning races shows the bike and team are more than capable so the rest is up to me.
“I think with the team support and a good testing schedule we can start the 2011 championship ready to be competitive from the first race and be on the podium as early as possible. Having a teammate like Marco Melandri is great, he has a wealth of experience to learn from so I'm going to enjoy riding with him.”
Beating a number of high-profile riders to the ride, Laurens Klein Koerkamp is certain the Laverty has the talent to progress with Yamaha.