Eugene Laverty: World Superbike star puts passion for cycling on hold during coronavirus

Eugene Laverty
Eugene Laverty finished 11th in race one at Phillip Island before crashing out in Sunday's warm-up session

World Superbike rider Eugene Laverty says he has temporarily put his passion for cycling on hold in order to avoid putting any potential added pressure on the medical profession during the coronavirus health crisis.

The Portugal-based BMW Motorrad rider says he misses riding his bike but it is "a small sacrifice to make".

"When you think of what the medical people are doing it's not much to give up for a few months," said Laverty.

"We have to keep ourselves indoors."

"A lot of people are still riding their bikes outside but I just look at the statistics - hundreds of thousands of people crash on bikes every year and end up in hospital," added the former MotoGP racer from Northern Ireland.

"Thankfully I have never crashed but I don't want to put any more pressure on the emergency services - I'd hate to be one of those who adds to the workload of the medical profession."

Learning guitar, Portuguese and first aid

The 33-year-old has been keeping himself in lockdown since returning from Australia in mid-March and has been using the spare time at his disposal to pick up some new talents.

"I am learning to play the guitar but I'm still rubbish at that, while the first thing I did after I came home was a 1,000-word jigsaw puzzle," he said.

"I'm still learning the Portuguese language and I'm going to take an online first-aid course. That's something everyone should be encouraged to do but is something I never learnt at school.

"Music is something I wish I had done more of as a kid and doing something like learning a musical instrument and learning a different language uses a different part of the brain."

Eugene Laverty is riding for the BMW Motorrad team in 2020

'Frustrated with stupid crash mistake'

Laverty made his World Superbike debut in 2011 and has 13 race wins to his name to date, with a best overall season finish of second in 2013.

He finished 11th in race one of this year's championship at Phillip Island in February but was unable to compete in either the Superpole race or the second feature event after suffering concussion in a warm-up crash.

"Phillip Island was a bit of a disastrous week as I ended up in the medical centre and missed out on Sunday's racing," Laverty said.

"After a difficult practice, the pace I had gave me huge reason for optimism so I was even more frustrated with the stupid mistake I made with that crash.

"The BMW is just one year old so the project is in its infancy. There are aspects of the bike which are fantastic - chassis-wise and we have got a great base package - it's just a matter of fine tuning the bike.

"The potential is definitely there and I want to be back on the podium. The aim was to use this as a development year and then challenge for the title in 2021."

'A waiting game' for WSB to resume

Following the season-opener at Phillip Island, the second scheduled round of the series in Qatar was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic, before the Spanish round at Jerez was postponed from late March until the end of October.

With no indication of when racing may be able to resume, Laverty admits that it is "just a waiting game now" to see when more track action may be possible.

"Formula One and MotoGP are planning races right through until the end of the year and World Superbike may follow suit I guess.

"We have 12 rounds remaining but the problem with it being a world championship is each country is going to have different rules.

"One country may open its borders before another. A national championship like British Superbikes may be able to start again before a world championship."

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