Eugene Laverty has said he is “devastated” to learn of Shaun Muir Racing’s (SMR) decision to replace him with Tom Sykes, and believes it will be a struggle to find a competitive spot on next season’s World Superbike grid.

After a tumultuous year, the 32-year old was hopeful he had done enough to secure a place in the SMR squad, which will switch from Aprilia to BMW machinery, next year.

2018 has been far from straightforward for Laverty, whose early season was disrupted by a horrific pelvic injury, sustained at the second round of the year.

He then made a rapid recovery, returning to score two podium finishes and a pole position after a three-round absence, and sits ninth in the current championship standings, a place ahead of team-mate Lorenzo Savadori.

Laverty’s comments indicate he believed he was in-line to front SMR’s challenge with factory-backed BMWs in 2019, and stated his belief that Sykes – currently fourth overall – has been “underperforming” over the past two seasons.

“I’m devastated to hear the news that Tom Sykes will be replacing me at this late stage as I was excited at the prospect of riding the factory BMW in 2019,” said Laverty.

“Tom’s a great rider but in the past two seasons he’s only outscored his teammate in 5 out of 50 races. I’m a numbers guy so that’s the definition of underperforming in my opinion.‬

‪”Since returning from injury this year I’m proud of my performance on the Milwaukee Aprilia. When you consider two statistics it’s clear that the Superbike World Championship has been dominated by three other manufacturers lately:‬

“Prior to my back-to-back podiums at Laguna Seca and Misano it had been 55 races since a non Kawasaki, Ducati or Yamaha was on the podium. (Honda at Magny Cours in October 2016).‬

“Prior to my pole position at Portimao it had been 36 rounds since a non Kawasaki, Ducati or Yamaha clinched Superpole. (Honda at Buriram in March 2016).‬

“The last non Kawasaki, Ducati or Yamaha to win a race was also Honda at Sepang in May 2016. Just two opportunities remain in Qatar to end that 70 race run with a win before the SMR team and I part ways.

“My crew at SMR have been a pleasure to work with. They are a fantastic group of guys and they worked tirelessly this year. I only hope I get the opportunity to work with them again in the near future.‬”

The remaining options to stay in the series are limited, but it is believed the Red Bull-backed Ten Kate Honda team may be one possibility. Laverty has nonetheless vowed to fight for a place on next year’s grid.

“It won’t be easy to find a seat having been informed of my replacement so late but I won’t give up,” he said. “After all, I’m a fighting Irishman.“

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