Eugene Laverty has moved to third in the Superbike World Championship after scoring pole and two podiums at Silverstone.
As the world championship headed to the UK for the second time this year, Laverty sought two solid home results to keep championship hopes alive.
And in what turned out to be one of the more dramatic and unusual race weekends of the season, the honorary Durham star was one of the few celebrating at the end of Sunday.
The drama began on Saturday afternoon as the third and final part of Tissot-Superpole qualifying got under way. As the eight minute session reached the mid-point, spots of rain forced organisers to red flag. As a result it was deemed a ‘Wet Superpole’, meaning all riders who had made it through to the third part had to start again and embark on a 20-minute session.
Tempers frayed as riders complained that they had all used their qualifying tyres, and were forced to qualify on race tyres. And it was Laverty who emerged the man to beat, as he took pole moments after the chequered flag, giving him the top spot on the grid for both of Sunday’s races.
Changeable weather caused more trouble on Sunday, even delaying the start of the first race as rain kept falling, stopping long enough for the track to dry out and then falling again. When it finally got underway, Laverty made a clean start and led for the first three laps before being passed by Tom Sykes on Lap Four. As the rain started to spit again, it threw the race into chaos.
Laverty’s Aprilia Racing machine looked first to struggle, but soon rivals were all slowing too, as some parts of the huge Northamptonshire track were wet while others remained dry.
With not enough ground water to warrant switching to wets, the riders were forced to skate around on their slicks. The result was seven riders in the leading group swapping the lead numerous times.
As the rain stopped, Laverty was running down in seventh, but in the final three laps got himself on the comeback trail and fought his way right back to second, following Jonathan Rea over the line at the flag.
Race Two followed a similar pattern, but this time Frenchman Loris Baz who took command at the start, leading the pack until the rain started again on the sixth lap and Laverty dropped back.
Once again place-swapping chaos ensued for most of the race, as six riders diced for the lead, sharing it between them for the next 10 laps.
In what was almost a carbon copy of the first race, Laverty started to pick it back up on the 14th lap, quickly moving up to third place by Lap 16.
It looked like he was easily the fastest on track and the stage was set for a thrilling final few laps as he would have surely fought his way to the front.
But the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse and as two riders crashed out, race chiefs stopped the race and called it a result as Laverty lay third.
But he said: “I want to compliment Race Direction. The decisions made today were perfect despite the difficulties and the riders were involved in discussions that were helpful in handling as best as possible a delicate situation like the one we had here.”
Laverty is now third in the rider championship on 226 points.
His Aprilia team-mate Sylvain Guintoli leads on 262 with Brit Tom Sykes second on 249.