Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty scored a season best fourth last time out at Brno, and then again in race one in Laguna Seca using a change so simple he refuse to tell anyone what it was.
It is a case of ever closer to the breakthrough podium finish for the team and a return to the true top flight for a rider who scored 13 race wins before his ill-fated journey to MotoGP for a couple of fruitless years.
He nearly got WorldSBK podium number 34 of his career in race one at Laguna. “We had a shot at the podium and it would have been a genuine podium as there were no real crashes there,” he said. “We just got stuck behind Tom a little but think he was having trouble with his front tyre. Same as I was, as we were locking it a lot, so I did not have confidence to overtake him. I finally got round him, but I think Alex must have pulled two or three seconds on me at that stage, so it was too far to get that podium.”
There is one bonus to finishing fourth in race one, the best possible start to race two. “Starting from pole on Sunday,” explained Laverty.
He had some issues with his front in the first race, probably to do with the jump in track temperatures on Saturday, with no real cure on offer if it turns out that way again on Sunday. “I think it is not a Eugene thing or an Aprilia thing,” said Laverty.
“So I cannot search for too much. It was strange for them first few laps and then at exactly the moment that Tom’s front started to lock up or, whatever he had problems with, mine did too. With the track temperature being 60°C it was absolutely f****d but I do not want to change the bike too much. If the track temperature is the same again we are just going to have to live with it.”
The gradual but now measurable increase in the performance of the Aprilia squad in general is unmissable and there was one simple step that made the main difference in Laverty’s ability to compete in recent races.
“The really main thing is in finding rear grip,” said the Irishman. “In these last few rounds we have improved it, better and better. We found out what it needed. I am frustrated that it was not found sooner, as that is a year and a half. But it was something so simple. It was not any new part, it was just a simple thing in the setting of the rear and I have rear grip now.
“It is just something that actually makes the rear tyre work. Everybody thought with our rear tyre we were destroying it, but it wasn’t that, it was that whenever we had the grip it was enough allow me to accelerate forward. But whenever the initial grip of the rear tyre went away I could not use the tyre. It was not that I was destroying the tyre, it was just that I could not get the tyre to work.
“Now I can make the tyre work and it was such a simple thing for a year and a half. I am not going to tell you what it is because it was something so simple. It is something we had here in the past, in 2013. The bike kind of worked then so we need to listen to what worked then before we try and go forward.”