WSBK, ROUND 13 - LOSAIL

WSBK, ROUND 13 - LOSAIL

RACE 2

Milwaukee Aprilia experienced a difficult Race 2 at the 2017 WorldSBK finale in Qatar, Eugene Laverty scoring the team 9 points in P7.

Laverty and teammate Lorenzo Savadori started the race P1 and P2 after strong rides to P4 ad P5. Eugene made a rapid getaway in the lead, defending against the fast-starting Davies and Sykes. Lorenzo had a slow start, dropping to P18 after running wide at Turn 1. Lorenzo encountered electronic problems on Lap 2 that had surfaced in the warm-up session, and was forced to stop his bike on the pit straight and retire.

Eugene was struggling with grip from his rear tyre early on, causing his pace to drop and lose places. He fought hard within the top five, but dropped to P6 on Lap 5. As his rear grip continued to cause him problems, he was passed by Fores and was caught by Guintoli. Determined to defend his position Eugene fought hard with him, as they passed and re-passed each other all the way to the line. Able to use the imperious speed of his Aprilia, Eugene defended well against Guintoli and eventually finished P7 with 9 points to secure tenth in the championship.

With a year of valuable experience to use in their first year as Milwaukee Aprilia, the joint forces of SMR and Aprilia Racing will head into winter testing with a good base for the Aprilia RSV4-RF as they prepare to fight for the 2018 Superbike World Championship. 

Shaun Muir - Team Principal
We started this year with high expectations as a team, but we soon realised we were further back than we initially thought. In Australia we were in a strong position naturally, but we perhaps didn't realise that immediately. As a result we have gone full circle after full circle in trying to progress and innovate, but we have learnt and grown as a team and have many reasons to be positive.
We've finished this weekend with a setting that gives us a good base for the RSV4-RF to use in winter testing, a setting that we should have had at the start of 2017. We had our best finish of the year yesterday with P4 and P5, and in general the last four races have found us in a really good position. They have helped us to consolidate what we have learnt, and we go into next season with a wealth of experience and knowledge to utilise. SMR is a smarter team now and we are constantly building and increasing our capabilities. Another big factor from this year is that Aprilia Racing now have a good direction to follow, and together we are determined to succeed.
Both of our riders are also more confident with the machinery. They have struggled at times this year and have not always had the best package to compete with, but their feedback has helped shape our direction for the Aprilia and in testing we aim to further develop the bike and the riders' comfort with it. 2017 has been difficult for us, but we hope to start 2018 in a stronger position and to be able to challenge for the podium regularly.

Eugene Laverty #50 / Grid - 1th / Race - 7th - 9 points
I felt such a potential for the bike heading into Race Two, and it was a disappointing result really. We made the same forward steps overnight that we’ve been making all weekend, but there was something really strange going on with the rear tyre. I did what I could with the electronic to help me grip, but I haven’t had a Pirelli act like that before where it was jumping, and that needs investigating.
It was a decent battle with Guintoli for seventh and I was able to utilise the bike’s power to get past, but it wasn’t where we should have been. The bike was working well in areas that we’ve struggled previously such as fast corners, but I didn’t have a rear tyre to make use of the bike that I had.
It’s been a positive year for us overall. We started the year further back than we expected which was hard to deal with, but we’ve all dug deep and gradually made good progress. The second half of the year has been really positive and we’ve found a good direction to go in. We’ve focussed less on numbers and more on rider and bike feedback, and that has helped us make huge progress. I’m looking forward to the 2018 season; we will work very hard over the winter and from Phillip Island our target will be the podium. Everyone is very dedicated and determined in this team and I’m confident we will have a good year.

 

Lorenzo Savadori #32 / Grid - 2th / Race - retired
I'm not sure exactly what was wrong with the bike in the race. We had an electronic issue in the warm up session and there was a problem on my sighting lap to the grid. It was an unlucky result for us, because the bike felt good.
I made a slow start and I went wide at the first corner where I lost a lot of positions. I was starting to make up positions quickly and my pace was good, but the race was over on the second lap when it stopped on the straight.
It was not a simple year for us, but we have learnt a lot. The first half of the year we didn't make much progress and for sure we could have been better. The second half of the year after testing was like a new season for us, and was much better. The race yesterday was good for us, and I hope we can keep up good performances next year. We need to work a lot over the winter to reduce the gap to the guys at the front, but I am positive because the team has been great this year and we have learnt so much.

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.

Shaun Muir - Team Principal
It was a solid performance from the whole team today. We had our best result of the year with P4 and P5 for Eugene and Lorenzo, and there are lots of positive to take from this weekend so far.
The big positive is that we were only 11 seconds from the win and 1.8 seconds from the podium, which shows the progress we’ve made. There were crashes for other riders which played a part, but everyone has dug in deep to put us in a competitive position.
We start P1 and P2 in Race 2 tomorrow, so we have another chance to show what we are capable of. Today was a good result and we need to build on that for a stronger result tomorrow. 2017 has been a difficult season for us but step by step we’ve progressed. Now we need to finish the year on a high so we can head to testing at Jerez with something positive to work with and a good direction for 2018.

Eugene Laverty #50 / Grid - 6th / Race - 4th - 13 points
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.

 

Lorenzo Savadori #32 / Grid - 4th / Race - 5th - 11 points
The Superpole was a good result for us. I think it was possible to make the first row, but I struggled with the rear which has been a problem since Free Practice and I lost time. There are areas to improve on our qualifying pace but the second row was positive.
The race was my equal best result of the year after P5 at Assen, and it was a good fight with Eugene and Tom Sykes for P4. Sykes had some problem with the rear so I could close quite fast, and then I was trying to pass Eugene for P4. We had a good battle but he passed me again on the straight and I had to finish P5. It was a good result and I’m happy with more points for the team.
For sure we can do more and I hope tomorrow we will have a better result. I had an issue at the race start where I lost some places so the guys will try to fix that, and I am looking forward to starting P2 and having a good race.