World Superbike star Eugene Laverty says he won't be fazed by the presence of ex-world champion Max Biaggi in the Aprilia team garage.
Laverty was drafted into the factory squad after Yamaha withdrew from the series in an official capacity.
He made an impressive start to his Aprilia career in the end of season tests, topping the time sheets on the RSV-4 to put down a marker ahead of the 2012 season.
And Laverty, who was narrowly beaten into third place overall in the championship standings this year by Biaggi in his rookie campaign, is desperate to emerge on top of the pile next season.
The 25-year-old – a double winner at Monza – has no qualms over taking the fight to veteran Biaggi on the track.
“This could be Max's final year and he wants to go out on top. He is a threat, definitely, but I've been brought in to try and be the future of Aprilia and I want to win the championship, as does he.
“We tested in Portugal and I'd never spoken to Max before and we were sat in the garage for three days together and we never really spoke to be honest.
“I've not seen his telemetry yet and he's not seen mine. We'll see how the season starts but I'm just focused on my own job,” Laverty said on Irish radio station Today FM
“I've moved across to a new team with Aprilia next season and I've taken a few technicians with me, so I'm building my own little team around me and that's going to be very important if I want to challenge for the title next season.
“On my first day on the bike I was fast straight away and faster than my team-mate, so that's important and it's good psychologically as well.
“The Yamaha and Aprilia are two very different bikes and my intention had been to stay with Yamaha for a second season and fight for the title, but that didn't go to plan but I'm now on an equally competitive bike and one I can win the title on.”
Laverty has made eye-catching progress since his switched to the World Superbike Championship, twice finishing as World Supersport runner-up before making the transition to the superbike class this year.
With a highly encouraging first season in World Superbikes under his belt, Laverty is being tipped as a major contender for title honours in 2012.