Yamaha WSBK: Laverty & Melandri in 2011

2011 World SBK

After current MotoGP rider Marco Melandri signed with the World Superbike Yamaha Sterilgarda team for 2011, the question became "who would be his teammate?" The answer was released Friday, when Yamaha reported that current World Supersport rider Eugene Laverty will be filling the empty seat.

One of Yamaha’s current WSBK rider’s, Cal Crutchlow, recently signed to the satellite Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for 2011, filling in the seat Ben Spies left vacant (Spies moved to factory Yamaha MotoGP team, filling in the seat of Valentino Rossi, who signed with Ducati). This leaves the other current Sterilgarda rider, James Toseland, without a ride for 2011.

Laverty, 24, of Northern Ireland, currently competes on the WSS Parkalgar Honda CBR600. With one round remaining, Laverty is 12 points behind the leader, Ten Kate Honda rider Kenan Sofuoglu. This season, Laverty has won seven races and taken five pole positions. Last year, he finished second in the championship behind the then-WSS rider Crutchlow.

Laverty has ridden on a Yamaha in the past. While competing in the 250cc MotoGP Championship in 2008, Laverty rode as a wildcard in World Supersport, substituting for the injured Fabien Foret; he took second and third in those races.

Eugene Laverty says: "It’s great to have a contract signed at this stage while still fighting for the title in the Supersport class. I desperately want to win this year before moving on. When I rode the Yamaha YZF-R6 in World Supersport in 2008 I was having a tough time in 250s, it’s nice that Yamaha brought me to the fore and are now giving me the opportunity within superbike."

"Ben Spies winning the championship in 2009 and Cal Crutchlow now stepping up and winning races shows the bike and team are more than capable so the rest is up to me. I think with the team support and a good testing schedule we can start the 2011 championship ready to be competitive from the first race and be on the podium as early as possible. Having a teammate like Marco Melandri is great, he has a wealth of experience to learn from so I’m going to enjoy riding with him."

Laurens Klein Koerkamp (Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Manager) says: "We’ve been very impressed with Eugene in the World Supersport Championship. He is a very talented racer who has shown great dedication to training, is focused on victory and we know he’s a great person to work with."

"We have proved with Cal Crutchlow that we have the facility to bring young riders through from World Supersport, continue to nurture and develop them in World Superbike and provide them with further opportunities in MotoGP if the situation is right. We look forward to working with Eugene and believe he has the talent to continue through with Yamaha into the future."