Eugene Laverty feels Milwaukee Aprilia can challenge for a first rostrum of the 2017 World Superbike season having made significant testing gains carried over from his encouraging Laguna Seca round.

Having produced an upturn in recent results, with three top six finishes in the past four races from Misano and Laguna Seca, Laverty had been aiming to build upon the set-up gains at the two-day in-season test at Lausitzring which hosts round nine next month.

While Laverty spent the opening day of the test becoming familiar with the German circuit, he's confident useful performance gains were found having experimented with set-up changes to gain a better front-end feel which he feels has helped improve the bike as a whole.

"The main thing for me on Tuesday was to learn the track ahead of the race weekend," Laverty said. "It's bumpy like everyone says, but it's fun to ride with such a mix of low and high speed sections and the bike seems to work well.

"We did a really good job in just a few hours, and made two big steps forward. We set a lap under the lap record pace which shows we're making big strides in chasing down the front guys.

"For this track we've been working on corner entry and allowing me to attack the front more. As we improve that area the rest improves with it, and we've found that yet again here. I feel positive because its the same direction we've been going in recently; Laguna Seca was a good step, and here we've continued that.

"I'm confident that we're heading in the right direction, and when we come back here next month we'll be aiming for the podium. It won't be easy but it's in our sights now."

Laverty has recorded Milwaukee Aprilia's joint-best result of the season so far when he scored fifth place in race two at Misano, while Aprilia's last World Superbike rostrum came in the wet race two at Lausitzring in 2016 when Alex de Angelis secured second place on the IodaRacing Aprilia.

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One of the top riders no question and would give JR a run for his money if he were on the other Kawa.

Hate beards and moustaches usually but my goodness this guy pulls it off wonderfully, debonair I say!

I wonder if Eugene thought the bike would produce the same results as the last time he rode for Aprilia.

The factory Aprilia was the bike to beat when Max, and Sylvain were winning WSBK titles on it. Now unfortunately if you are not riding a factory Kawasaki or Ducati, you are fighting for scraps.

Problem is that Aprillia stopped official development of the race bike leaving the teams to guess at the best direction. I just hope that Shaun Muir and Mick Shanley can get the factory interested in winning again and we can see them break the strangle hold that is currently being seen with the Dukes and Kwaks.

WSBK used to be a belting series to watch, but it's sadly been in decline for the last decade or so and I fear it's now seen more of a retirement home for ex GP riders

Whats that tash all about? He looks like one of the 3 musketeers.

Re: looks like a Musketeer... Women love them there Musketeers. Not so stupid our Eugene :-)

Plus i hope the bike/Aprilia improves sufficiently cos the man is capable.

Laverty is a rider who potentially can give a run for their money to the guys in front, but will M. Aprilia live up to his expectations ?
Good luck, Eugene !