Aprilia's Eugene Laverty admits it is essential to begin challenging for podium finishes and race wins at the next Word Superbike round at Imola.

The Northern Irish rider made an indifferent start to the 2012 season in the opening round at Phillip Island in Australia, where he failed to finish the first race after experiencing gearbox trouble before rallying to take eighth place in race two.

Laverty was hampered by a hand injury sustained following a practice crash and was on the back foot at the Aussie venue, but the 25-year-old is now fully recovered as he aims to make amends at Imola next weekend.

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"It wasn't the most simple start. Last year in my rookie season I had some satisfying races with some podiums and the two wins at Monza, but if I want to fight for the title I'll need to be consistent straight away, getting up on the podium and winning even more races," Laverty told the official World Superbike website.

Assessing his chances at Imola, he added: "Our rivals are tough, starting with my garage mate, Max Biaggi and 2011 champion Carlos Checa. Since I've gone to Team Aprilia I've known that I have the bike and all the right moves to be able to aim for victory in the championship.

"In Australia I wasn't able to express my full potential, partly due to an injury I suffered during the tests which affected all our work. For me the season will start from the next race at Imola."