Eugene Laverty gave a firm hint of his potential ahead of the opening World Superbike Championship round at Phillip Island by very nearly claiming his first career pole position on the lesser fancied race tyre in Superpole.
The Irishman has been in strong form ahead of the first races of the 2013 season having barely left the top five during the timed sessions, Laverty comfortably cruising through to the Superpole shootout by topping SP2.
However, with his first lap on the qualifying tyre in SP3 only good enough for a provisional spot on the second row, a determined Laverty bolted on a race tyre for a last gasp effort and circulated the Australian circuit in a time that would place him second on the grid.
Only two tenths shy of pole sitter Carlos Checa, Laverty was delighted to be kicking off his season from the front row, not least because he feels his deliberate strategy of focusing on preserving his tyres means he is strongly placed for the races.
“After using my last qualifier in Superpole 3 I was on the second row, but I really wanted to be in the top three like I was in the last races last year. I threw myself into a fast lap using a race tyre and I must say that everything went perfectly.
“It was just a bit rocky in the turn that comes out onto the straight stretch, but second place is excellent, especially since we've worked well on our race pace. Starting from the front was important. It simplifies things and now I am looking forward to the races tomorrow with confidence.”
Team-mate Sylvain Guintoli, meanwhile, will start his first race for Aprilia from the second row in sixth position, a result that Frenchman was satisfied with.
“I think I can be quite satisfied since this is my first Superpole with the new Team. Everything went according to plan. In my last lap with the qualifier I pushed to the maximum for the first part of the track and maybe that made me lose a bit of grip toward the end.
“I was only a tenth of a second off of the front row, but in the end I didn't make any mistakes and we are where we need to be with our race pace, so I can't wait to get back on the track for the two races tomorrow.”