The change - Interview Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia)

2017 is not an easy season for Eugene. The 30-year-old irishman and former MotoGP racer is currently at 10th place of the Superbike World Championship. At the race in Assen/NL we had a little chat with him about the reasons and the differences between MotoGP and WorldSBK.

Hello Eugene! How was your season until now?

Eugene: Really disappointing so far. We are working hard, but in Aragon/E it was clear that the old bike from last year is working better than this years. Our first aim is to fight with Yamaha, Ducati and Kawasaki. They’re so strong, they’re one second per lap ahead of the rest.

How do you see the transfer from WorldSBK to MotoGP - the times are not so different anymore.

Eugene: Yes, the bikes are very similar. The main difference are the tires. The Pirelli a softer tire and has better performance when conditions are cooler. Michelin and Bridgestone are the opposite and everybody knows that. They work in a different way, another philosophy I guess.

What about the logistics? Do you see a big difference in your life as a racer?

Eugene: Well, of course. We have more time between the races. The break after Aragon was as long as the big summer break in MotoGP! But it’s nice to have this time off sometimes. The team has more time to be in the factory and try to bring the bike a step forward.

So are you still confident to improve your results this year?

Eugene: Yeah, I’m confident! I expected to be closer, but I was sure that we have some more work in the first year of my contract. But to be on eighth’ position with a bike I used to win with… Last year their superbike was strong, but the step that Kawasaki made over the wintertime was big and they proved it again in Aragon. They have done an incredible job.

Do you think that the rider is as important in MotoGP as in WorldSBK - or vice versa?

Eugene: Well, it’s racing, it has the same principles honestly. A good rider on a good bike is a winning combination - no matter what championship.

You are a development rider for the MotoGP bike?

Eugene: Yes, that’s true.

Is there a big difference in technology between a MotoGP- and a WorldSBK?

Eugene: The technology is quite similar. The MotoGP bike is smaller and shorter - the superbikes are generally bigger. They come from a street bike, the engine is bigger. That’s the reason you see so many MotoGP riders on the ground, because their bike is so small. So on the bike the feeling is different, but the laptimes are nearly the same. On the straights the superbikes are about 30 km/h slower, but the laptimes are similar, which shows the superbike riders can go rather fast in the corners.

Will we see you at MotoGP race this year?

Eugene: Maybe. It depends on the tests in the summertime. The MotoGP project is difficult and I still have to focus on the superbike as well - especially on the race weekends.

How about the atmosphere and motivation in the team?

Eugene: It is definitely very good! They changed the manufacturer and just want to win and so they’re determined to make this jump. Like me, they expected to be further ahead, but the bike is still not there.

What about your replica helmet? It arrived in the UK a couple of weeks ago.

Eugene: Yes - and I use just the replica version! There’re just a few small changes to last year.

So you’re using the production helmet?

Eugene: Yeah, the guys can buy exactly the helmet I’m using at the race weekend. It was a fantastic idea to just use the replica!

Cool, that’s interesting to let people know this!

Are you looking forward to a rainy condition?

Eugene: For the race it’s good, but I want it dry during practice, it’s better for testing. Most riders want it completely dry over the weekend, so they don’t have additional work for nothing. But I want to have this work. On the other hand: Rain gives us the best chance to beat the Kawasakis and Ducatis up front (laughs).

Did you already find a wet setup for the bike?

Eugene: We did a few laps during the winter and my impression of the bike in the rain was always a good one. I know that this bike works so well there. The electronics just work, that’s always an important thing. After just a few adjustments the bike really works fine.

And for mixed conditions?

Eugene: That’s not good for anybody if it’s like that. If you see rain on your visor or if it rains more, you come in. Between it’s always a risk.

Thanks for the talk! Any last words?

Eugene: Wish me luck for my first street motorcycle lesson next week. I’m doing my regular driving licence for that! I didn’t tell them that I’m a professional racer! (laughs)

Interview: Michael Roebbeling, Photos: SHOEI, Milwaukee Aprilia / Gold and Goose Photography