Eugene Laverty is already looking forward to the start of the 2011 World Superbike Championship season after a successful first outing with Yamaha during testing at Magny-Cours.
The Irishman caused a stir by out-pacing the likes of Leon Haslam and Noriyuki Haga aboard the bike that won in the hands of Cal Crutchlow during the race weekend in France.
Indeed, having only had his first taste of Superbike machinery on the Monday, Laverty was quickly up to speed on the R1 as he completed 118 laps on the second day and set a best unofficial time of 1min 38.7secs.
Half a second faster than Haslam on his new BMW bike, Laverty confesses he didn't expect to so fast so soon.
“A great first test on the Yamaha,” the World Supersport runner-up said. “I really surprised myself, it's not often I exceed my own expectations as I'm very realistic normally. I really didn't expect to go quite as quick or feel quite as comfortable so soon.
“I didn't want to do anything silly and give the team the wrong impression so have just been taking it step by step learning the bike. I thought I would have to do more laps to get a good feeling but felt pretty good by lunchtime today.
“To have a good base leaving the first test and got over the nervousness is great. The team has made me feel very welcome; the working relationship is great so I'm looking forward to continuing into the race season next year.”
Laverty's performance was also praised by team manager Massimo Meregalli.
“I think it has been an impressive test, especially his calm approach. I think as a first test his integration into the team was really good. It seems that he was riding his bike already and he was able to be very consistent with really good lap times straight away in both wet and dry conditions, this gives me a lot of confidence for next year. In the end I don't feel we could have expected a better test result, it has been a very positive two days.”
Laverty will be joined by long-time MotoGP rider Marco Melandri at Yamaha next season.