British Superbikes: Michael Laverty gets it right to light up Snetterton
Michael Laverty finally turned Norfolk promise into points after a fantastic weekend of British Superbikes action at Snetterton.
The Samsung Honda rider has been quick during past tests and practices at the Eccles site – even losing out on pole in Saturday's qualifying by just 0.001 seconds – but has been more than unlucky when it came to race time.
However, this weekend was a different story as the Northern Irishman delivered when it mattered, hammering out an excellent second to defending champion Tommy Hill in race one before leading from pole to flag in race two.
It made Laverty the seventh different winner in BSB this season.
The sun drew out bumper crowds in excess of 20,000 as Snetterton shimmered in the spotlight – something Laverty more than matched.
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'We had a couple of issues and thanks to the team, they rectified them between the last round at Oulton Park and now,' beamed Laverty.
'I was able to up the pace in the early laps. The second race was quite a bit faster than the first, so I just got my head down and worked the tyre hard early in the hope I would have a gap to rest on at the end, and it worked that way – so I'm over the moon.
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'We can improve a little bit yet, but we're getting the Honda in the zone now.'
It was Hill, Laverty and pole-sitter Josh Brookes who fought for victory in an excellent BSB opener.
Laverty's team-mate Jon Kirkham saw his own run of bad luck at Snetterton continue as he spilled on the first lap.
The remaining Samsung led the opening laps as the leading trio edged free but Hill, who had already sparred with the duo in front, made his move stick into the old Esses on lap eight and the Swan Yamaha man never looked in trouble after that – aside from when Brookes overdid it into Montreal but somehow managed to avoid collecting the number one in front.
Australian Brookes and Laverty exchanged places twice as their battle went to the line, while former World Superbike legend Noriyuki Haga showed his class.
The Swan Yamaha rider harried Team WFR Honda's Alex Lowes throughout the final laps before snatching fourth with a tempestuous move out of the final corner.
The electrics on the front-running Rapid Kawasakis of Stuart Easton and Shane Byrne saw both retire from the opener – but better was to come from Byrne in race two.
The man they call Shakey sparred for fun with Haga and following Hill's technical glitch, which left him a dejected man in the pits after only a handful of laps, Byrne sat second – holding off Brookes with three to go.
It was a battle that ran to the line, and a battle Shakey won. Twice.
'I though the penultimate lap was the end, so when I came round I thought that's it, I've held him off – and then the black and yellow flag came out and I though 'No, I'll never keep him behind for another lap!' laughed Byrne.
'I just about managed it in the end, but Josh definitely kept me honest.'
Haga's spill sent him out with Hill, although his exit looked mild compared to the high-side suffered by Tommy Bridewell whose Supersonic BMW sent him flying – and after landing, the Brit somehow avoided a field of riders heading directly for him.
Up ahead it was Laverty – on pole by clocking race one's fastest lap – who took a comfortable race two win, while Brookes could console himself with the fact his podium finish sent him back to the top of the championship standings, ahead of Hill, Byrne and a rejuvenated Laverty.