Posted: 11 Jan 2014
Michael Laverty took an almighty step from competing in the British Superbike Championship to the elite class of MotoGP in 2013, riding for Paul Bird’s CRT team, initially on Bird’s own home-built Aprilia-powered contender and later on the Aprilia ART.
At thirty-two, the Northern Irishman is one of the older riders in Grand Prix Racing and he comes with a colourful history. Laverty first came of note when riding in the British Supersport Championship from 2001 to 2004, finishing in the top five in each season with the exception of his rookie year.
Stepping up to British Superbikes in 2005 with Stobart Motorsport Laverty finished 10th in the final standings that year. For 2006, he remained with the team and after only managing to go one place better overall, he returned to British Supersport the following season, joining the Relentless Suzuki team.
He enjoyed a strong season on board Suzuki’s GSXR600, beating team mate Ian Lowry to the title. The team rewarded him with a seat in British Superbikes for 2008 and despite a couple of fourth place finishes early on, he ended the season in ninth place and opted to leave the series for America in 2009.
Riding for Celtic Racing in the AMA Superbike Championship, Laverty finished every race in the top ten that season with a best result of 2nd at Road America. Alongside his AMA duties, he also competed in a number of World Supersport rounds with the CRS team.
In 2010 he made a return to the British series again with Relentless Suzuki. Taking his first win at Oulton Park, Laverty turned heads as he went on to finish on the podium in five successive races placing himself firmly in championship contention. He made it into the ‘Showdown’ in its first ever year and rocked into contention with a two strong results, including his second ever BSB victory at Croft. Unfortunately for Laverty, he crashed out of the first race at Silverstone halting his title challenge.
He moved to Shaun Muir’s squad for 2011 which had just become Yamaha’s official BSB entry, a few early season crashes meant it took Laverty a while to get going on the R1 but he took his first victory in the first race in the fourth round at Thruxton. Laverty struggled to maintain the pace of teammate Tommy Hill in the mid-season but saw improvements towards the end of the main season. At Cadwell Park he finish on the podium in each of the three races, taking the win in the third finishing the season in fourth place.
Making it into the showdown for a second successive year, Laverty started the final three-rounds well with a second place at Donington Park. However in the second race at the same event, he became caught up in an incident with Shane Byrne on the first lap. After remounting he could only manage a fourteenth place finish, which all but ruled him out of the title chase. He managed to clinch one more victory that year in the final event at Brands Hatch. He finished the season in fourth place once again.
A move to Honda in 2012 saw Laverty make a slow start to the season with just three top ten finishes in the first six races. A strong performance in the fourth round at Snetterton saw him return to the top with a victory in the second race. Snetterton was the start of four successive podiums for the Northern Irishman, who took another win in the second race at Knockhill. He then scored a number of fourth place finishes before returning to the podium in both races at Cadwell Park, a feat he repeated in the next round at Donington to secure his spot in the showdown. However the three race showdown didn’t go too well, starting with a pair of seventh place finishes at Assen. He took just two podiums in the final five races and finished the season fifth.
Laverty was pleased with his debut MotoGP season and rightly so. His thirteenth place finish at Jerez saw the Northern Irishman finish third CRT and in many races he’d be in a strong position before being ruled out by a technical issue or crash, as would be expected when developing a new bike.
Laverty remains with Bird for 2014 switching to the PBM home-built machine and confidence is high.
"We learned so much in year one that I'm delighted Paul has continued his involvement with MotoGP and that he's given me the opportunity to continue with the project” said Laverty on re-signing for Bird.
“Everyone has told me that year two is much easier so the aim is to put into place what we have learned and to raise our game accordingly. The class is going to be a lot tougher with the new production bikes but our aim is to consistently score points."