FIXI Crescent Suzuki has signed Eugene Laverty to replace Leon Camier for the 2014 World Superbike Championship. Laverty finished as runner-up in the 2013 WorldSBK standings, won nine races and took a total of 19 podiums during the season for the factory Aprilia squad.
“I’m delighted to join Crescent Suzuki for the 2014 season,” explained Laverty in a team press release. “I will try the GSX-R1000 for the first time at the end of this month to better understand our potential, and I am really excited to see what I can do with the bike. Thank you to Paul Denning and his team, and to Suzuki, for pushing so hard for this deal and for believing in me. I will give everything I possibly can to bring Suzuki to the top of the podium again!”
Denning, the FIXI Crescent Suzuki Team Manager added, ““It is an exciting prospect for the Crescent Suzuki team to have secured the services of a rider of Eugene’s caliber. He has shown regularly this season that he has the determination, ability and technique to secure superb results, even when things are against him. Eugene brings a different level of expectation to the team and it is now up to us to give him the tool for the job. We have made big steps this season with the GSX-R, and with further developments planned for 2014 I am convinced that Eugene will be able to get the maximum potential from the Suzuki.”
Six days before the announcement of Laverty’s move, Crescent Suzuki revealed it was letting go of Camier. The move came as a shock to Camier, with a BBC article reporting a handshake agreement had been reached between himself and Denning during the final round of 2013 at Jerez. Camier then went on to test for the team at the Spanish circuit directly following the finale and had concluded the relationship would continue despite not having signed any papers to finalize the arrangement. Denning asserts, in the same BBC report, that negotiations were ongoing with Camier when Laverty became available and that part of the blame rests in bad timing but also in too much hesitation from Camier and his management.
Interestingly, Laverty stated on October 17th, 2013 in the Belfast Telegraph that he and Denning were already in talks and that Denning was holding a seat on the team for the Irishman until he addressed the other offers on the table. Camier tested with Suzuki on October 22nd at Jerez .
2014 will be Laverty’s fourth full season in the premier World Superbike class and by joining with the Suzuki squad perhaps increases his visibility as a potential rider for the 2015 Suzuki return to MotoGP (Laverty’s brother Michael competes in MotoGP for the Paul Bird team). 2013 was Laverty’s best season to date on the RSV4, which has proven a title contender for four-straight years, including two rider championships with former rider Max Biaggi. Suzuki’s GSX-R1000, on the other hand, hasn’t been on the top-step since 2010.
Crescent Suzuki states in the press release announcing Laverty’s addition to the team that it “is currently pushing forward with an aggressive development plan for the GSX-R1000 Superbike in order to further increase its competitive level in 2014.” Next season will also be the last before every bike on the grid must conform to the new EVO specifications, which require that engine modifications be kept to a minimum. It remains to be seen how the new class will affect the different manufacturers, but for reference neither Suzuki nor Aprilia made it to the podium in the EVO comparable Superstock 1000 class in 2012 or 2013.