Eugene Laverty’s success in topping the rostrum in the World Supersport race at Qatar today is a wonderful reward for a young rider who could so easily have sunk into the obscurity suffered by so many competitors who get sucked under the murky waters of 250cc grand prix racing.
After finishing third in the 2006 British Supersport championship, Eugene was delighted to get a ride in the LCR Honda in 250cc grand prix racing in 2007. But the Honda wasn’t the kit to have in a field dominated by factory Aprilias, and the Ulsterman went largely unnoticed.
For 2008 he switched to a Blusens 250cc squad, but it even though it was on an Aprilia, it was a private bike and no match for the factory machines at the head of the field. Race after race, my photographer pal Martin Heath and I would console Eugene after another dispiriting performance.
But was it the bike or the rider? Once you sunk down towards the back of the 125cc or 250cc grids in the vicious MotoGP circus, team managers have no way of really knowing.
But Simon Buckmaster at Parkalgar Honda clearly saw something in Laverty that others were missing, and offered the 22-year-old a seat on his Honda CBR600 for this year’s World Supersport series. Now, in only his second ride of the year, Laverty has demonstrated his brilliance, rewarded Buckmaster, and given Brit racing fans a great day.
He’s a modest bloke, Eugene. He wrote in his blog (on eugenelaverty.com) before today’s race: “My aim is to mount the rostrum. If on Saturday afternoon I’m not stood on the spot marked 1, 2 or 3 then I’ll be disappointed, simple as that. I’ll give it my best shot.”
He was right on target.