Eugene Laverty says he is determined not to let Suzuki reach 100 consecutive World Superbike races without a win as he prepares to make his much anticipated debut with the manufacturer at Phillip Island.
The Irishman, who won nine races to finish runner-up to Tom Sykes in last year's World Superbike Championship, switches from Aprilia Racing to Voltcom Crescent Suzuki for 2014 in a move that will be keenly watched when the season gets underway in Australia next week.
Joined by defending British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes, Laverty comes to Suzuki at a time when it has not won a World Superbike race since Leon Haslam at Kyalami in 2010, or 94 consecutive races
It's a statistic that Laverty is eager to reset, at least before it reaches three figures, but despite a troubled few seasons for the manufacturer, the multiple race winner is refusing to rule out mounting a title challenge too.
“Our pace is there,” he told Crash.net
. “I have enough experience now to feel like we can win races fairly soon and I'm confident we can do that on a consistent basis, so we can fight for the championship. It's been so long since Suzuki won and I'd like to break that streak because it's a very long time for a manufacturer not to win a race. I am very motivated to get onto the top step.”
Indeed, Laverty says his hopes were raised following a successful test at Portimao, where both he and Lowes set the pace.
“After the last test I am feeling excited. In November things were difficult with the electronic issues but the work the boys did in six weeks was incredible to get it ready for Almeria and then in Portugal the lap times were bang on the pace.
“I really like it here, coming back to a British team with a British mentality. It's more organised and clearer to where we are going and it's nice that all of the guys are highly motivated as well. They have won races in BSB, so they are keen to win races and I am keen to keep winning races, so it's a really good atmosphere in the team right now.”
The opening round of the 2014 World Superbike Championship season gets underway at Phillip Island on 21-23 February, with official pre-season testing taking place on 17/18 February at the same venue.