Michael Laverty was left satisfied with his performance in the Italian Grand Prix but having finished 16th for the fifth time in six races the Irishman could be excused for wondering when his first points of the 2014 season will come.
The Paul Bird Motorsport rider has impressed throughout the season with consistent race pace but speaking after the 22 lap race at Mugello Laverty admitted that there was only small performance gains to be made and that at present the team are getting the maximum from their package:
“To be fair we couldn’t do much more than 16th,” admitted Laverty. “We were eight seconds back from Colin and it was a good race to finish as top CRT bike again which is all we could do today. I had a good consistent pace and the bike was working nicely but again it was a little bit of a lonely race once I got past Broc [Parkes] and Mike [di Meglio].
“I got past Barbera and then he dropped out and after that I gapped Broc and Mike and kept my laptimes consistent by watching the timer. I knew that the bike was working well on used tyres and once the grip went down I was able to still do good laptimes and be consistent in the 51’s.”
For the first time this season PBM brought new parts to a Grand Prix with an upgrade of the fuel tank allowing them to distribute weight more evenly around the chassis and change the weight distribution compared to the previous version. Laverty has said throughout the season that he has struggled on full tanks of fuel to have confidence in the bike. With the new tank used for the first time at Mugello however an overly cautious approach to turn one led to him losing time on the opening lap once again:
“I made a good start but I braked too early and was a little safe into the first corner and by doing that I got swamped and got stuck on the back. The new fuel tank was a bit of an improvement but our bike is a little bit strange in that with grip it doesn’t work as well as when the grip drops a little bit. The guys that I was fighting with are better when they’re bikes have grip compared to ours so I had to work hard to get past them in the early laps.
“I lost a few seconds to di Meglio because he flew in the early laps and got towed away with Colin. The bike was better in the early laps and it wasn’t pushing through the corners but the way that we had it setup this weekend was better on used tyres compared to when had new tyres. So once we were three laps in the bike stayed consistent and I could get into the middle of the corner and break traction to finish off the corner. When you have grip I couldn’t break traction and it would stay online.”
“It’s annoying to be relying on people to drop out of the race to score points but that’s what we need to happen. It’s frustrating to finish 16th again and not have a point on the board but we’re consistently the top CRT. Hopefully those points will come to us but we’re doing what we have to do by finishing as the top CRT. The other Open class bikes like Colin and Pirro are consistently half a second faster and we can’t bridge that gap so we’ll just keep working on the bike.”