Michael Laverty called time on his Bennetts British Superbike career at the end of last season to take up a full-time media job with BT Sport’s MotoGP squad.
It was a move that many thought they had seen coming after Laverty kept popping up on the channel with a microphone when he wasn’t with the Tyco BMW squad. He denies he had it in mind as a career path from when he began his TV appearances, but no-one believes him…
After a first-class racing career which started in 2001, took in a British Supersport Championship, AMA, BSB race wins, World Supersport and a couple of years in MotoGP with PBM, the Irishman suffered a couple of tough seasons in the domestic championship and decided he would swap a career in leathers for one in comfy shoes.
“I enjoyed doing the TV stuff last year and everyone thought I was doing it with a view to retiring but that honestly wasn’t the case. When BT first approached me about going full time, I wasn’t sure because I was going to continue in BSB and then I thought about it,” Laverty told bikesportnews.com
“I’m 37, the last two years of racing have been tough, I can do something I enjoy and do some racing on the side - have my cake and also eat it. I might do one BSB round this year.”
Laverty is married to Chaz Davies’ sister Jodi Lee and has been an occasional spotter and helmet polisher for the works Ducati WorldSBK man. A role to which he will return in 2019.
“Doing the stuff with Chaz is easy because he is family so I’ve got a vested interest. He was keen to have me in there and maybe we can add that half a per cent that might be needed.
“Chaz has always been keen for me to work with him, so he said he wanted me in his corner when I was available. I looked at it all, weighed it up and although I still have something in me racing-wise, I know the opportunities will dry up as it’s an age-ist sport.”
On top of that, Laverty - who says he is now 37 - will also take on a role in the Tyco BMW team, so he will be a busy man.
“So basically, I said yes to everything. Yes to BT, yes to Chaz and yes to Tyco BMW in BSB. I will be with them to help Keith and Christian and do one race later in the year. Circumstances dictated this was the best route.”
After being a title contender for most of his BSB career, Laverty struggled on the MCAMS Yamaha and didn’t fare much better when he returned to Tyco on an S1000RR which was a very fickle thing to setup.
“The switch to MCAMS was tough because it took until late in the year to figure that bike out. I had one podium in the rain and one good dry weekend at Brands. I didn’t enjoy it because I couldn’t find answers.
“Last year was different. I don’t know if we went the wrong way with the bike. We were missing that last per cent of performance. I got one podium in the rain which was the only podium we got.
“That made it easier to step away from it full time. If I’d still been in the championship fight like 2015 and 2016, it would have been tougher to walk. Two lean years made it an easier decision.
“Age is only a number at the end of the day but after some thought, I was happy with the decision. I am still going to do some world endurance. I enjoy racing and hopefully the BSB wildcard will be an option.
“At Tyco, I will be an assistant to Philip, help him manage the riders because I already have a relationship with Keith and Christian. It works well as I’ve also known Philip for years so if the riders have a problem, they come to me and I take it to him, and vice versa.
“Sometimes when meetings happen between riders and team owners, tempers get raised, so it’ll be down to me to sort things before that happens and help the team work more seamlessly.
“I’ll also do some development work and when BSB is testing in the UK, I’ll get on the bike. Unfortunately, I can’t do the Monteblanco and Portimao ones because they clash but I can do Silverstone and Oulton.”
“But 19 MotoGP rounds and four world endurance rounds with the Penz13.com team fitting in WorldSBK with Chaz, I’m already going to be at a race-track every weekend. Time is the constraint really.
On top of the BT, Davies and Tyco duties, Laverty will also race in World Endurance alongside Danny Webb and Sheridan Morais for the Penz13.com team but the amount of hats to be worn doesn’t faze the likeable Toomebridge man who now resides in Welsh Wales.
Laverty will mix up his work for BT, taking on the role of pitlane reporter as well as commentary and analysis.
“I’ll be doing more commentary with BT Sport this year. I’ll still be doing the analysis with Suzi and also pitlane reporting too. I had a go at it last year and I enjoyed so. I’m going to do a bit of everything. I’ve signed a three-year contract with BT which is the longest contract I’ve ever had. And I’ve got a wife to pay for…”