Irish rider Eugene Laverty made his official return to WorldSBK championship. This week, from Monday-Wednesday, he went out on his new Aprilia racing machine at winter testing at Jerez. It was a private three-day WSBK/MotoGP test at the Spanish circuit.
The 30-year-old was the runner-up in the 2013 WorldSBK championship riding an official factory racing Aprilia machine. The rider said he achieved most of his goals during the test.
The Irishman said, "The Aprilia has definitely improved. It was good back then but some areas have improved right away. The guys had told me that in 2014 they'd made a big step and you can see that. Towards the end of '14 Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri were dominating.
"It looked like they'd made a big step with the bike and it looked like it was a lot easier to ride and it definitely is. The bike was always good and looked after the tyres well, but it could still be difficult towards the end of the races. It often became more of a handful," he added.
"Now I'd be happy to go out and do a 20-lap rung whereas three years ago I would have dodged that in testing because it used to really sap the energy out of you.
"Now the bike is a lot more manageable. I've ticked off most of my targets I wanted to achieve at the test."
Laverty along with his new teammate Lorenzo Savadori tested two different engine specs and some chassis parts. Both the riders now will have to wait until next year to ride the Aprilia race machine as the next test is scheduled at the end of January.
Laverty said, "The target was to get really comfortable on the bike because that often takes a few days to feel 100 percent on it. We sorted out the seat positions the other day and we were ready to go."
"It helps that Lorenzo has ridden this bike previously so we were able to get comfortable on it straight away. Today we tested some different engines and chassis parts so we've had a busy day but it went well.
"The chassis, setting-wise, isn't too far off of what we were back then, so it seems they've made a big step with the electronics," he added.