Go Eleven Ducati’s Eugene Laverty finished the recent Portimao test as top Panigale V4R but says he still needs to find a little more pace to fight for the WorldSBK podium in Portugal this weekend.
Laverty was fractionally ahead of works rider Alvaro Bautista on the combined timesheets after making progress with a new rear suspension linkage, although he believes the factory team might have something up their sleeve for race weekend.
“We tested in Portimao last week and it was very beneficial for us. That test, and being able to return to race at Laguna Seca, were important for us,” said the Irishman.
“At Laguna, I was able to test a rear linkage which gave us more grip and it allowed us to start the Portimao test from where we left off in Laguna. Even though we were a bit slow initially, we made progress during the test to change the bike and make the rear tyre work.
“Portimao is good track for the Ducati because it’s up and down and quite physical, but with the Ducati and it’s linear engine, and the wings, it makes the bike easier to ride than some of the other bikes.
I finished as the top Ducati, but I think that the factory boys have a bit left up their sleeve for the race weekend. We’ll need to find a bit to fight for the podium but that’s my goal.
“It’d be a dream come true for me because I’ve had a close relationship with the circuit, and they’ve looked after me really well over my career - I’d love to reward them with a podium.”
Laverty has just four rounds with his current team left before he switches to Shaun Muir’s BMW operation.
“To have my contract signed for next year is a big relief compared to this time last year,” said Laverty.
“At that point everything was up in the air until November and that was too late. For me to be signed up in August takes a lot of pressure off me.
“It’s always a negative pressure on a rider when you’re fighting for a job so now, I can just focus on these last four rounds and trying to fight for podiums like we did before I was injured. I want to enjoy these races.”