Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) arrived at Sepang for the sixth round of the World Superbike championship battered and bruised after testing Suzuki’s MotoGP machine in Japan and then Australia, suffering a high-speed fall at Phillip Island.
Laverty’s Phillip Island crash was at turn one at approximately150mph. He escaped serious injury but arrived in Malaysia suffering with a painful and swollen right foot, and the usual bruising after such a fast fall. He is confident he will be fit and capable for the races at Sepang.
He rode the Moto GP Suzuki in good conditions in Japan last Thursday but in an Australian test plagued by cold and rainy periods he had very limited track time.
“The PI tests took place on Tuesday and Wednesday and Japan was last Thursday. Japan was great but it is winter in Australia now,” said Laverty, who won the opening Superbike race of the year back at Phillip Island on his regular GSX-R1000 SBK bike.
“When it was dry in Australia we had 15 degrees of track temperature and it was not dry that often, unfortunately. I had a crash as well on a damp spot and that was pretty much it for the first day. On day two I did not get many more laps in before the rain came. Over two days I set about 20-odd laps, so that was not so good in Australia.”
Despite his misfortune at Phillip Island, he may get another chance to test the GP-bound Suzuki.
“The Japanese test was held in hot conditions and although I only got three hours on the bike I was doing pretty fast lap times. The test was done at the Japanese Superbike track of Okayama. That was a good test and the bike was working really well on a track that was low grip. As a base bike it is definitely good. Tyres, brakes, nothing was strange. I expected something really crazy. I am used to hearing how different these tyres are but to me they were very comparable. The rear tyre is different but the front tyre you could not tell much difference with it. It is a motorbike, at the end of the day.”
Laverty did find that the race-only chassis on the MotoGP bike was more hard-edged than his Superbike. “The GP bike does feel that it has a harder edge. The strange thing is that there is less movement on the MotoGP bike than a Superbike so you actually feel like you are going slower. It feels like you are on a 600, but you are probably going 20kmph faster than the Superbike at the end of the straight. It gives you the impression that you are not working as hard, so I would say that it was that bit easier to ride. ”
Laverty is unsure if he will have the chance to ride the Suzuki GP prototype again, saying, “There had been a Motegi test scheduled before Donington but it was just too close. It was always the way at Phillip Island that if the weather went against us – as we thought it might – we talked about another test, so I would like to get on it again.”