Michael Laverty reckons of the biggest surprises he got during an impressive MotoGP debut in Malaysia last week was the speed difference between factory prototype machinery like Honda’s RC213V and the production-based CRT bikes.
The Irish rider produced one of the most impressive performances of last week’s Sepang showdown when he set the 15th best time and finished third best CRT behind Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet.
The long and technical Sepang track features two flat-out sixth gear straights where Laverty witnessed first hand the huge gulf in engine performance and top speed between the CRT and factory machinery.
Espargaro was the fastest CRT rider in Sepang but he was still 2.5s behind Dani Pedrosa's best pace and Laverty told MCN: "MotoGP is definitely a class within a class because a prototype passes you like a superbike passes a 600. It is not even close.
"I’m surprised at the difference between prototype and CRT. There are long straights in Sepang and if one of them passes you on that back straight they are gone and when you turn into the home straight you can’t even see them. There’s no doubt the prototype bikes do blitz you on the straight.
"I sensed when a prototype bike was coming up on me and they know they can blow by me on the straight. So nobody was disrespectful and picked me up just to get me out of the way.”
Laverty impressed in the Far East by quickly adapted to the carbon brakes, Bridgestone tyres and electronics rider aids on board the Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia ART machine, which he is unlikely to ride again.
When the pre-season campaign resumes in Malaysia on February 26, Laverty is expected to switch to the PBM chassis, which has been designed and built in the UK. He will still use an Aprilia motor.
See the February 13 issue of MCN for comprehensive coverage of the Sepang test.