3 years ago
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In an exclusive interview with motogp.com Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Michael Laverty discusses replacing Marco Melandri at the German GP.
Michael Laverty rode at the Sachsenring as replacement for Marco Melandri in the Factory Aprilia team, finishing the race in 20th. In an exclusive interview with motogp.com he discusses how the opportunity came about, and his performance over the weekend:
Michael – How did the last minute deal to ride at the Sachsenring come about?
“I am the Aprilia test rider, so I had terms in my contract with them to wild card this season anyway. The decision with Marco came quite close to the German GP, so Aprilia just called me up and asked me to take up the wild card option on the contract and we just got it all setup really quickly, we managed to turn it around in a day. It was nice to get the call and be back on the MotoGP grid, but it was all a bit of a rush leading up to the event. I had just come back from racing at Knockhill in BSB and it was just a case of heading home immediately, repack, and get back on the road to the Sachsenring.”
What is the on-going arrangement with Aprilia?
“At the moment I am just waiting on Aprilia to make a decision, obviously the separation with Marco is still recent, so they will sit down as a team with the Piaggio bosses and decide what they want to do going forward. I am not sure on their plans, so I shall wait to hear.”
Bearing in mind the last minute nature of the deal, how did you rate your performance at German GP?
“I guess I did okay, but if you feel you are capable of more you always leave a bit frustrated. I had more potential, it was just that in the time frame I had I was simply trying to get comfortable and find a direction with the bike setup to suit me. I felt that after the race I knew what I needed to do, I just needed one more day! It was a good experience plus it was my first time ever riding for a full Factory team, which was great, and I felt really welcome in the team. It was just on the track that I felt a little frustrated, as I was slower than I was last year on the PBM ART bike and the RS-GP has a lot more potential than that machine. We have the seamless shift gearbox, pneumatic valves, and with everything else the bike is capable of a lot more, I just didn’t have the time frame to extract everything out of it. When I spoke to the team, they were quite happy, so maybe if I had hit my targets I would have been overachieving! I wanted to be battling with the Open class Honda guys, and I was at the start, but after a few laps it was pretty clear that I didn’t have the pace to run with them and was losing the rear a lot. So I had to settle for the result and bring it home, but in the timeframe I think we did a pretty good job.”
How hard was it to switch from BSB straight to MotoGP™?
“It was harder when I first made the step up to MotoGP, but now I have a reference point for the different tyres, carbon brakes, and the electronics systems, it takes maybe ten to fifteen laps for me to feel comfortable on the bike! To get the maximum takes a little bit more time. It is quite an easy transition for me as I have done it a few times now, but the tyres, brakes and electronics are the biggest differences, along with the more rigid nature of a GP chassis, so you just have to recalibrate your brain. It would be much harder if I had ridden the Sachsenring on a superbike, but as I have only ever ridden a GP bike here it makes it a lot easier as my reference points are very similar from last time.”
Is it true you only had one set of Factory leathers for the race?
“Yes that is true! As it was so last minute, I could only get one suit made in time. I had my two tests suits with me, but they were backup and I really didn’t want to have to use them. Luckily I only really had that one escapade into the gravel so I didn’t have to use them, but that’s an added pressure, to not want to crash and mess up those awesome leathers. Obviously when you are on the bike you forget about it, but between sessions due to the circumstances, it was always there at the bike of my mind!”
What was it like to line up on the MotoGP™ grid with your brother Eugene?
“Really cool! Coming from a small country like Ireland and to have two of us on the grid together was awesome. We started racing for fun, it was a hobby and it’s become our career, so to be lining up on the grid at the pinnacle of the sport was a cool feeling. Unfortunately Eugene was having his toughest weekend of the season and I was just feeling my way back into it, so we weren’t both where we wanted to be performance wise, but it was a great experience for the Laverty family to have us both out there.”
What do you think your potential on the RS-GP bike would be if you were to race for the rest of the season?
“I think I could get close to where Alvaro Bautista is at the moment, which I think is pretty close to the maximum you can get from this bike. He is doing a great job, when we overlaid our data, I was stronger a little a bit on the brakes but his corner exit was better. So if I adjusted my style a little bit, and also worked on the setup of the bike, I think I could be doing something similar to what he has achieved. I think that would be realistic and if I get another shot at it, hopefully I can get that little bit closer.”
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