Eugene Laverty has a whole new factory bike to play with for WorldSBK 2020, in the form of the BMW Motorrad S1000RR, and is expecting a war of attrition at this weekend’s Phillip Island season opener.
With team-mate Tom Sykes firmly in the top places Laverty, who was ninth overall in the final pre-season test, knows all things are possible for his machine when he gets to setup properly.
“Still lacking just that outright pace but you know what it is like here, a war of attrition,” Laverty told bikesportnews.com. “So over 20 laps it is going to be a different story, and that has really been our focus. We did learnt what the direction is that we need, because I am lacking through sector one and sector three, the fast flowing stuff.”
Those areas are where Laverty’s BMW chassis should work even maybe better than any other, given how sweet Sykes said it handled from the arrival of the latest model last season.
“It is a surprise but what we learned in the second Tuesday session, by going he wrong way, is pointing us in the right direction now,” explained Laverty. “We just need to confirm it. Those first and third sections where there is not much transfer under braking, the bike is not transferring, so we need to make the bike move a little bit. But in sector two that is probably my strongest place, where I am able to brake the thing.”
Laverty is another in the paddock who thinks there will be no great breakaway this year, unlike last year when Alvaro Bautista and Ducati posted stunning lap times all race long.
“Last year was freak, and Bautista was on the crest of a wave and so impressive but now it is going to be more, normal,” said Laverty. “You have to look at somebody like Johnny as the reference, who you have to gauge it off - but Yamahas have been doing some good laps as well, so it is the same old story… who can do more 1’31.
I don’t care who is doing 1’30s, it does not matter, you can do three 1’30s and then end up in the 1’32s at the end. The important thing is maintaining those 1’31s. And at the moment Yamaha is looking pretty strong.”
Laverty is not just a rider who is moving from a different manufacturer in 2019 (Ducati) to another (BMW) in 2020, he is also swapping a V4 for an inline four, which has a different engine character and design/weight distribution, etc.
Laverty’s take on it is that, “these things are a bit more front heavy, and inline four, that is the thing. So you have to understand how to ride that. It’s a wee bit more point and squirt. Get in there, stop it, and punch it out.
“Whereas the V4 seems to be with the Pirelli tyres you can flow it more, like what Alvaro was doing last year. He was riding it like a 750, which is probably why he is struggling now. An inline bike somebody like Johnny gets the best out of it because he goes in there, picks it up quickly and gets it on the fat part of the tyre. That is something that Alvaro is still going to have to get his head around.”