Eugene Laverty says his decision to move back to the World Superbike Championship in 2017 was ‘one of the most difficult of my career’.
The Northern Ireland rider is preparing for this weekend’s British round of the MotoGP World Championship at Silverstone, where he is optimistic of producing another big result on the Aspar Ducati.
Laverty will rejoin the series next season on Aprilia machinery in a team run by Shaun Muir Racing with backing from Milwaukee.
Fellow Ulsterman and current world champion and 2016 title favourite Jonathan Rea will be his key opponent and Laverty admits that it will be imperative to match Rea’s incredible consistency to have any chance of becoming a world champion for the first time.
“To win again is my priority but I think the biggest challenge is the fact that since I left, the same guys have been on the same bikes in the same team and with that they get stronger and stronger.
“I arrive with a new package and it will take time to track them down again because these guys are getting stronger year on year: I’m talking of course about Kawasaki and Ducati,” said Laverty.
“Jonathan Rea has been on the podium in pretty much every race since he’s been on that Kawasaki and I need to try and find that kind of form.”
Laverty opted to leave MotoGP after learning that only one updated Ducati GP16 would be available in the Aspar team next season, which has been earmarked for new signing Alvaro Bautista.
Rather than settling for the older GP15 machine, he decided a return to World Superbikes was a more attractive proposition.
“It’s been a difficult period to make this choice and one of the most difficult decisions of my career.
“I’ve enjoyed these past two years here in MotoGP; last year was tough and this year has been a huge improvement,” said Laverty, who sealed his best result with fourth in Argentina earlier this season and clinched a terrific sixth place last time out at Brno in the Czech Republic, both times in mixed conditions.
“Of course, I wanted to continue that improvement but I had to weigh things up and the competitiveness of the machinery was the most important thing, so I’ve decided to return to World Superbikes.
“It’s been fantastic and I’ve learnt a lot racing with these guys over these past two seasons and also I’ve been well looked after.
“In Brno when I informed Carmelo Ezpeleta [Dorna Sports CEO] of my decision he said some very kind words and that was much appreciated.”