A Conversation with Eugene Laverty #50, Milwaukee Aprilia Superbike Team.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY STEVE PHIPPS • JULY 3, 2018 • PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PAGE ARE COPYRIGHT © FAMAMOCA LLC 2018 AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED WITHOUT LICENSE
Eugene Laverty #50. The grid of Race 2 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round. photograph: Steve Phipps/FAMAMOCA.
For readers who might not be familiar with you, let's do a quick rider bio.
I come from an Irish racing family. My dad raced fifty years ago and that passion was passed on to my brothers and I. I've been racing in the World Championship since 2007 and won my first race at world level in 2009. I've finished runner-up in the championship three times but only one of those was truly mine. Unfortunately a mechanical breakdown late in 2010 cost me the title but I guess that's racing! At thirty-two years of age I still have time to set that record straight and finally win that elusive world title.
For the gear heads: Your bike.
The Aprilia RSV4 is a bike that I know well having raced it in 2012-13 and again last year. Due
to the World Superbike Championship rule changes in recent years, we now struggle to
decelerate the bike in braking compared to our rivals so our main focus has been to improve
in that area. Aside from that we have sacrificed top speed in favour of acceleration since last
season, and that was a good step forward. During winter testing we also switched to a new
swingarm. That delivered better stability under acceleration which is very important for my
What changes did you make for Laguna Seca?
The biggest change we made was to the rear set-up of the bike in order to use the rear tyre
better. Ironically, it was more in the style of what I used back in 2012-13, so it just goes to show
that the old tricks still work. This meant that I was able to maintain better rear grip no matter if
I was on a new tyre or an old one, riding with a full tank or almost empty.
In Rainey Curve, Turn 9 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, 2018. photograph: Steve Phipps/FAMAMOCA.
Talk about some of the injuries you've dealt with.
The injuries sustained in Thailand in March were pretty horrific but at the same time I'm
fortunate that they weren't worse and I'm all patched up now. I fractured my pelvis in a couple
of places and while they were displaced slightly no surgery was required. I did have surgery for
an internal injury and that was definitely one that I wouldn't want to go through again I can tell
My first round back at Imola was so tough but I knew that I needed to get back on the
bike in order to be ready for my home round at Donington. Over the past few rounds I
honestly haven't felt any ailments when riding the bike, and that's allowed me to progress
round on round until I finally returned to the podium again at Laguna Seca.
Sunday's podium celebration. Laverty (center-right, with champagne bottle) and Chaz Davies (center-left, with champagne bottle). photograph: Steve Phipps/FAMAMOCA.
Let's talk about every rider's favorite subject: rider penalties. Most penalty points you were
ever assessed was for ...?
I can't really recall any penalties that I've been given! I'm one of the most aggressive riders
out there when it comes to battle but I play fair as I'm a true sportsman. It angers me when I
see riders deliberately short-cutting and getting away with it during races but we're always
going to have that so long as we have this green painted area by the side of the track. I
understand that it's in the name of safety but cheaters are always going to cheat and the best
ones do it in a way that they know they'll get away with it.
When we set this piece up, I was talking about having been a youth and college athlete, but also a competitor whose composure and game would fall apart. How, after I started losing, I lost.
Eugene, talk about the psychology of a winning rider. How do you approach or prepare for a race? And talk a little about what happens during a race, if you're falling back, losing contact with the leaders, what your psychology is. Talk about the psychology of a winner, when they're losing.
Every rider has different character traits but one of my strongest is my ability to stay
calm. I meditate daily as I understand well the importance of resetting the mind and starting
afresh. When I'm on the grid, I don't feel nerves and the moment the lights go out I'm straight
into my rhythm. And throughout my career I've often been able to pull a one second gap by the
end of lap one.
During a race, I'm focussed on how my bike is changing underneath me in order to adapt and change where necessary. There can be many different scenarios in a race so the key is to work out what kind of race you're involved in.
If I'm in a fight with another rider and we have a similar pace then I'll study where our strengths and weaknesses are in preparation for those final laps. If I'm losing contact with the leaders and I'm already close to my limit then the only thing I can do is race the track and focus on my riding. If you ride over the limit, there's only one way that can turn out! While losing is tough for someone with a winning mindset, sometimes you've got to lose the battle to win the war.
The exit of Turn 8A, the bottom of Laguna Seca's famous Corkscrew, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, 2018. photograph: Steve Phipps/FAMAMOCA.
Our thanks to Eugene Laverty. The interview was conducted via email, and edited and condensed.
Our thanks to Pippa Laverty; Melvyn Record and Brad Littlefield at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca; and Dorna WorldSBK.
Photo gallery for Eugene Laverty from the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round →
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Links and More Information:
SBK MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
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