Eugene take fourth place in Qatar race 1
Milwaukee Aprilia enjoyed their best race result of the year on Friday at the Losail Circuit, Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo finishing P4 and P5 after a thrilling race-long battle.
The Superpole 2 shootout session resulted in a second row start for the team, with P4 for Lorenzo and P6 for Eugene.
Both riders were straight into the mix at the race start, racing Van der Mark and each other for P7. They held onto P8 and P9 for 6 laps, before a crash for Van der Mark moved them into P8 an P8. From Lap 7 they began to chase down Sykes, running a fast pace and shadowing each other.
By Lap 11, Fores retired with a technical problem and Lowes crashed out, moving Eugene and Lorenzo into P5 and P6 behind Sykes in P4. Their pace was relentless, and on Lap 14 Lorenzo made a pass on Eugene stick. Eugene retook his position, and on Lap 15 both riders passed Sykes brilliantly to move within striking distance of the podium.
For the last three laps the riders were two of the quickest on track, lapping only 0.3 seconds off race leader Rea’s time and hunting down Melandri in P3. The teammates ran out of laps before they could make a pass however, and came home a brilliant P4 and P5 a mere 1.8 seconds from the podium with a points haul of 24 points.
Saturday’s Race 2 will mark the final day of WorldSBK racing in 2017, and the team are determined to end the season on a high before commencing winter testing.
Eugene Laverty #50
“That was a proper race! That was something we’ve needed for a while, we were going forward even at the end which was such a great feeling and I equalled my best result of P4 at Portimao with an even stronger race. The weekend started pretty rough, the bike didn’t feel good in Free Practice and I wasn’t happy with the feeling. The guys worked really hard though and I’m happy with the changes they made. Every weekend should be like this and the progress is made in the garage, so it’s been a very positive step for us and we’ve seen the results of that. The main changes we made were to the rear of the bike, trying to get it to dig in on the really smooth surface here. The rear was fading a little at the end but for sure there is more improvement to find there. Lorenzo was riding really strong and we were matched throughout the race. When I came up on Sykes I could see his rear was going off so I made a strong move which stuck. Lorenzo was fast too but I was able to come out on top and I’m happy to start from pole in Race 2 where I think we can have another strong result.”