WSBK: Eugene Laverty making inroads with Milwaukee Aprilia

Eugene Laverty on the Milwaukee Aprilia at Phillip Island.
Eugene Laverty on the Milwaukee Aprilia at Phillip Island.

Eugene Laverty feels he is beginning to make inroads with the Milwaukee Aprilia after struggling with the set-up of the RSV-4 during testing and free practice at Phillip Island.

Race one at the legendary Australian circuit is due to take place at 0400 GMT on Saturday morning, with the second race scheduled for the same time on Sunday.

Toome rider Laverty, who has returned to the championship after a two-year spell in the MotoGP premier class, was 11th fastest on the combined free practice time sheets on Friday, but the 30-year-old is confident of making further headway over the course of the weekend.

“This track has been a big struggle and caught us off guard but we’re going in the right direction and that’s the main thing,” Laverty said.

“At the test we were completely lost. I couldn’t attack the bike but now we have gone 0.6 seconds faster than the test shows we’re going the right way.

“It’s still not enough but we are going in the right direction. I had some chatter again in the front, which was difficult to handle, but we’re making headway.”

Laverty is joined in the Milwaukee colours by Italy’s Lorenzo Savadori, who went seventh quickest in free practice to seal his passage straight into Superpole 2 ahead of the opening race.

Reigning world champion Jonathan Rea made a flying start after finishing second fastest on Friday on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR behind Chaz Davies, who led the way overall on the Ducati.

Rea is bidding to make history this season by becoming the only rider ever to win the title three years on the trot.

The Ballyclare man has led the way during pre-season testing and was confident of kick-starting his title defence in style in race one.

Rea, who has been backed to clinch the championship again in 2017 by four-time World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty, has stated his aim of building a healthy points haul from the off as he attempts to gain an early advantage over his chief rivals.

“It is important to manage the race in the right way,” Rea said.

“I am going to give it a good go anyway because I feel good on the bike. We still have a few little bits for me to try to maximise acceleration when the tyre drops.”