BMW Motorrad Motorsport
Moneymore, Great Britain, 14/10/2015, British Superbike Championship
Next weekend (17th and 18th October) will see the big season finale in the 2015 British Superbike Championship (BSB) in Brands Hatch. Among the riders in the spotlight will be BMW racer Michael Laverty. Together with his Tyco BMW teammate Tommy Bridewell, Laverty is one of the six “Title Fighters” who secured the coveted spots in the BSB “Title Showdown” this year. Over the season, Laverty proved to be stronger and stronger on his BMW S 1000 RR. This was clearly demonstrated at the most recent race weekend in Assen and Silverstone, were the 34-year-old from Northern Ireland celebrated stunning podium finishes.
In an interview, Laverty speaks about the keys to success, his first season on the BMW S 1000 RR, the crucial confidence on a bike, the strengths of his RR and his Tyco BMW team, the support from Munich and his expectations for the grand season finale in Brands Hatch.
Question: Michael, you are one of the six “Title Fighters” in BSB. In Assen you were third on the podium, and at the last round at Silverstone you secured a great second place. What are the keys to these strong results?
Michael Laverty: “I think it has been a long time coming this season. I was new to the BMW package at the very start of the year, as well as the team, and as the season went on we developed the bike more to suit my style. I have become more and more comfortable on the bike and in the last quarter of the season me and the BMW S 1000 RR have really gelled. Since Assen, I have felt at home on the bike and now I am one of the fastest guys on track. We still need to catch Josh Brookes, but at the moment we are competitive with everybody else there at the front. So I am really feeling happy on the bike, and I think that level of confidence on the BMW makes the difference that allows me to push to the maximum in every corner.”
Q: You pointed it out: the confidence is a crucial factor. Can you explain what difference it makes for a rider if he is riding “just” a strong bike, or a strong bike that he is also really confident on?
Laverty: “It means everything. In racing, you need to ride to the maximum. You need to be able to push the front end in every turn, you need to be able to spin the rear tyre out of every corner. You need to be riding on the limit, almost on the edge of crashing in every corner. To ride that fine line you need to be 100 per cent confident with the package and to be able to predict exactly what it is going to do. That makes the difference. It has been difficult for the first part of the season because the standard BMW S 1000 RR is perfect with the BMW electronics, but in the BSB we have run the specified MoTec system, which is mandatory for the whole championship. And this changes the bike quite a lot. It took us some time to get that same feeling that you receive from the standard BMW, but now, as we have achieved that, I can get almost all of the potential from the bike.”
Q: Are there special areas of the RR that make you feel especially comfortable on it, or is it the bike in its entire package?
Laverty: “The bike as a whole is a really good package. One of the biggest strengths of the RR is for sure the engine that is one of the strongest in the class. Unfortunately in the beginning I could not make full use of it, because it was difficult to get all the power on the ground, but as we improved the chassis setting, the suspension setting and, more importantly, the electronics setting to smooth the power delivery, these changes have made a big improvement on the track and allow me to push the bike to the maximum now.”
Q: Your team, Tyco BMW, is the only team with two “Title Fighters” in the showdown. What makes the team so strong?
Laverty: “This is a difficult thing to achieve, especially as it is the first year for the entire team with the BMW. So it had a lot to learn over winter. So to come out like this in the first season after changing the manufacturers I think that is credit to both the strengths of the BMW and the skills of the team. That was the goal this year for both Tommy and me to reach the shoot-out, so we felt it as a great success at that point to make it into the top six. But now, as a team and both of us riders, we want more. We want to win more races. I think overall it has been a good performance in year one for the whole team.”
Q: How important was the support from Munich by BMW Motorrad Motorsport and HP Race Support?
Laverty: “The support from the guys in Munich has been really good this year. At most races we have an engineer from the race department with us. As I explained, we had to remove the BMW electronics for the BSB championship, so it has been a lot of work to develop that control MoTec system to work with the BMW, and the guys at BMW Motorrad Motorsport have been instrumental in this. It is great to have that direct support from the factory. They have a clear understanding of the bike and they really helped us, the whole team, to develop it into a BSB race winner.”
Q: It is your first season on the RR. Do you feel like part of the big BMW Motorrad Motorsport family?
Laverty: “Yes definitely. It is a great company to work with and it has been an enjoyable first year. I hope we can continue this relationship and what we have achieved together this year in the future. It is definitely a great factory to work with.”
Q: The final round of the 2015 BSB season will be held next weekend in Brands Hatch. What are your expectations for the final races?
Laverty: “I am really looking forward to Brands Hatch. We have three races that weekend, so I have two goals. At the moment I am only 20 points down on the third position in the championship, so I want to secure the top three in the overall rankings, and honestly I want to stand on the top step of the podium before the season ends. These are the two goals and one will take care of the other. If I will win some races, I will finish third in the championship. We were third in Assen and second in Silverstone, so I want to be first in Brands Hatch and finish the season really strongly.”