Following a run of desperate bad luck in recent rounds of the MotoGP World Championship, whereas both Michael Laverty and Damian Cudlin left round 17 at the weather-affected AirAsia Japanese Grand Prix without scoring points, it was a lot more encouraging performance by both riders for the Penrith-based PBM MotoGP Team.
After the debacle of tyre wear in Australia the week previous, bad weather and even earthquakes threatened to disrupt the penultimate round of the series at Motegi and Friday’s free practice sessions were washed out completely.
Saturday’s slightly improved conditions saw both Ulsterman Laverty aboard the CRT-specification Aprilia ART and Australian Cudlin riding the PBM-chassised Aprilia qualify on row seven and eight of the grid respectively going into Sunday’s dry race.
Laverty, from Toome in County Antrim, on the Rapid Solicitors and Minxflix.com-sponsored Aprilia ART got the better start and was challenging just outside the points for the opening third of the race with German-based Cudlin aboard the unique Rapid Solicitors and Minxflix.com-sponsored PBM machine trailing just behind.
With both riders having had very limited experience at the track and especially in the dry conditions, they didn’t have the optimum settings but battled on regardless as they circulated inside the top 20 for most of the race.
Unfortunately for Cudlin, he inadvertently held up eventual race winner Jorge Lorenzo in the latter stages and was reprimanded afterwards by Race Direction and for Laverty, he ran low on fuel in the last couple of laps and eventually had to push the machine home such was his determination to finish. Laverty was classified in 19th position at the end of the 24-lap race with Cudlin in 21st.
Laverty dropped one place to 25th overall in the MotoGP World Championship standings in his debut season. In the Claiming Rules Teams (CRT) class, Laverty occupies tenth whereas PBM occupy eighth in the Constructors Championship and 12th in the Teams Championship in their debut season with their brand new British-built machine.
Michael Laverty: “Starting a race with only 18 laps under my belt in the dry was always going to make things difficult. I got gradually faster throughout the race as I figured the circuit out and managed to catch back up to Petrucci. I began to run out of fuel on the penultimate lap and had to nurse it home so I wasn’t able to make a pass. I ran dry on the home straight and had to push it the final 100 metres. I enjoyed Japan and the Motegi circuit although it was a little bit frustrating with the lack of track time this weekend meaning we didn’t reach our true potential.”
Damian Cudlin: “The weather really didn’t help us at all this weekend as the one thing we need on the bike is time and going straight into a dry race with very limited track time wasn’t ideal. I got into a good rhythm and was riding my own race and I apologise if I held Jorge up but the flags were not clear to me. I’d like to thank the team for their hard work as it has been a difficult couple of rounds but I am happy to record another finish.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: “The good weather we were hoping for at Motegi arrived too late to be of any help to our riders as they both were looking for as much track time as possible. In the race we did not have the pace to challenge for the positions we should be and so we return home from the flyaway races with little to show for our hard work. Nevertheless, we will keep trying hard and hope to finish the season with some positive results at Valencia.”