WAMstickerheader.jpg

My Biggest Supporter: My Dad, Eric ‘Big E’ Meyers

 

This originally appeared on the Celtic Racing Facebook page, it has been edited and used with permission.

My dad Big E and I in the Celtic Racing paddock. I’m happy and really lucky to have had him by my side throughout my racing career.

The faces you see over the course of an AMA Pro Road Racing weekend are many. For most enthusiasts and race fans, the assumption is that the crews working under the tents and canopies are full time professional technicians, engineers, and racers. Celtic Racing has had a special team member who doesn’t fit into this easy mold. My dad, “Big E,” Eric Meyers has been involved with motorcycle road racing since I began racing at the club level with CCS Florida and then went pro a few years ago. I started racing motorcycles when I left the Air Force in 2004, and back then, my crew consisted of my wife Michele, my mother, uncle, and dad, Eric – a family crew.

Eric Meyers started working with Celtic Racing at the beginning of the 2009 season when I arrived at the team. My dad is not a motorcycle rider or bike person, and according to his own humble words, considers himself the team “gopher”. For Celtic Racing, Big E is much more. Eric handles team logistics and hospitality for sponsors, crew, and fans. Being very detail oriented, my dad takes pride in making sure tires are brought to Dunlop and picked up before each session, and that the warmers are set correctly, among other duties. Perhaps the most important thing for my dad, is that he “loves” spending time working with me – and have to admit, I couldn’t do my job at Celtic without my dad’s help and his presence has been missed since  started travelling with the MotoGP circus.

My dad, ‘Big E’, Eric Meyers at my side (far right) after James Rispoli & Celtic Racing took the AMA Pro Road Racing #1 Supersport National and West division plates at the end of the 2012 season.

It may surprise you to hear, but my dad, Big E, comes from a professional golfing background, and as a PGA Professional he sees many similarities between professional golf and professional motorcycle racing, especially today. According to him “Both sports require intense focus, training and passion, and with the high levels of competition, fitness is a priority more than ever before. The dedication of road racers as athletes is incredible.” Eric is the President and owner of Riviera Country Club, located in Ormond Beach, Florida – and besides working for Celtic Racing, also supports the team as a sponsor.

Big E, my invaluable partner on the pit wall.

Big E, my invaluable partner on the pit wall.

What attracted my dad to working with me and Celtic Racing was the friendly, family atmosphere within the team, and within the AMA Pro paddock. “You can see the passion from the top down wherever you look, and the Celtic team works really well together” stated Meyers. For Eric, sitting around just watching the races was not enough, just as in his own business, he has a passion for customer service and “keeping folks happy”. Riviera Country Club is known as “The Friendly Club” – and the my family has worked hard to make the club relaxed and comfortable since purchasing the course in 1953.

I was extremely lucky to have Big E join me in the paddock this year at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas at Circuit of the Americas, in Austin TX. It felt just like old times to have him with me on the pit wall, manning the pit board as we timed Michael Laverty in MotoGP Free Practice and Qualifying. I love you dad, I wish I had your help at every race weekend; thanks for your support, I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without it.

 

So Close! Paul Bird Motorsports Aprilia MotoGP German Grand Prix Review

The Eni Motorrad German Grand Prix got off to a run of the mill start, I drove down on Tuesday, with a 6-hour drive to Sachsenring from home in Luxembourg. The team reported to the track Wednesday and began setting up our pit box in the tracks garages. We had an easy time of it this year; instead of using settings from 2013 at Sachsenring, we decided to start off with Michael Laverty’s settings from the Dutch GP at Assen, instead. So, instead of redoing the entire chassis, we focussed Thursday’s race prep on detailing the bike, removing the components, cleaning and making sure that everything was serviceable and ready for action, only changing a few items on the bike from the last race. Unfortunately, with rain on the radar for the weekend, that meant dialing both bikes, the A bike, ML-1, optimized for dry racing and the B bike , ML2, optimized for wet.

Friday’s MotoGP Free Practice went exceptionally well, Michael Laverty compared the 2 bikes in FP1 and we experimented with a longer swingarm in ML-2’s chassis. Michael liked the improved feel, so we settled on the longer swingarm and in FP2, we experimented with spring rates, first running heavier spring on ML-1, then lighter rate spring on ML-2 and back to the original to finish the session. Michael was cooking, but unfortunately high-sided late in the session. When he came back, he posted on this Facebook: “Rode my socks off, so nice to see P10 on my pitboard! Huge highside and bumped to 14th at the end. Only 0.8 off the top and 0.3 off Rossi.” Obviously, we’re making a lot of progress with the chassis, as reflected on the MotoGP time sheets after the first day of practice.

Saturday’s Free Practice & qualifying didn’t go quite so well as Friday, unfortunately. Michael crashed again in one of the morning FP sessions; he was alright , but this time, the bike was not. Michael went out for QP1 on the back up bike and similar to qualifying at Assen, came in for  fresh tires as it began to sprinkle and went out for a flying lap, only to encounter riders waiting for a tow. As a result, his 18th place qualifying wasn’t as good as we’d have liked, but it was still 2 seconds faster than at the 2013 German Gran Prix. Michael summed it up on twitter:

Photo by Gold & Goose

“I went a little quicker today, we don’t find much with a new tyre around here, happy enough with qualy though!” PBM’s Michael Laverty on Qualifying his PBM Aprilia Photo by Gold & Goose

Meanwhile, the crash on the primary bike had bent the swingarm, trashed the bars & controls and caught on fire. Apparently, one of the sensors on the LH side of the bike ground down as it was sliding across the MacAdam, causing it to short & catch fire, melting a good portion of the wiring sub-harness for the front end of the bike. As a result, we had a late night saturday, rebuilding the bike for the race. We replaced the front wiring loom, as well as brake & wheel-speed sensors, bars, controls & bodywork. We didn’t get back to our hotel until well after midnight.

We got back to the track at the crack of dawn Sunday Morning and conditions had changed radically overnight. Where we’d had mixed skies and warm air, we now had overcast skies, light rain and a cold track, which presented problems of its own. We’d made a gamble and opted to run the hard tire option. The trouble is, that the hard tire is only good above 20ºc (68ºf) and really great above 25º (77ºf), however morning temps were just below 20º for the morning MotoGP warm-up and it was iffy as to whether it would get warmer come race time. That meant that not only was grip not at its best, but our chassis and electronics strategies that we’d developed, we not quite ideal, either. With the weather switching from sun to torrential rain during the Moto3 & Moto2 races, we weren’t quite sure what we were going to do come race time- would we run the wet , M2 bike or risk it with ML1 on slicks with the possibility of rain? Time would tell.

It was when raining when Michael Laverty rolled out of the pits to the grid for the sighting lap, it had been raining, so he left on ML2 with rain tires. However, when he got to the grid, it seemed like the weather was changing. He and Phil, our crew chief made a last minute call and Victor rolled ML2 back to the pitbox, while Michael ran back and grabbed ML1 with slicks and started the sighting lap from pit row, while the rest of the field came back to switch bikes after the sighting lap. This is where everything got confusing: that morning, MotoGP officials issued a directive to avoid the delays caused in Assen. My memory is a little foggy, but if a rider left pit row & it’s a dry race & it starts to rain, they were allowed to pull up to their starting position & could change bikes on the grid. However, if they switched after the sighting lap, they would have to start from pit row. As it hapened, about 80% of the grid switched to slicks after the sighting lap and what resulted, was one of the oddest starts in recent MotoGP memory.

Because we switched bikes on the grid, the MotoGP race officials set us back to 20th, from 18th on the grid. All that was moot, due to the rest of the grid starting from pit road; Michael got a great start and was running in 2nd for the first couple laps of the race! However, while Laverty is famous for his ability to ride in the rain, Michael wasn’t very comfortable riding slicks on a wet, but drying track, especially with the hard compound  Bridgestone that wants a lot of heat to grip at its best. As a result, Michael began to fall back on the lineup as the faster factory and production bikes caught up. 28 minutes into the race, Michael had dropped back to 16th, but the track had a dry line at that point and he’d begun running his fastest laps of the race. Then, just as he’d begun running a really great pace and was picking up ground, Michael tucked the front and crashed into the gravel. (Michael’s crash was captured here, but you’ll need a MotoGP Video Pass in order to watch.) Michael summed it up best in a facebook post after the race: “It’s not every day you run 2nd in a MotoGP race, albeit for a couple of laps. The hard front took a while to come good for me, I had just set my fastest lap of the race, my pace was good for 12/13 but I lost the front and crashed. Did nothing different that lap, shit happens…”

All told, it was an expensive weekend for Team Paul Bird Motorsports Aprillia- teammate Broc Parkes crashed & totalled his #1 bike on Saturday, too. At the same time, we’ve gotten our baseline setup tuned really well and Michael Laverty has shown that he has what it takes to run with the factory production bikes. Our tiny, underfunded privateer team is like the little engine that could: we’ll make the most of the summer break and regroup for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP in a little less than a month. I think that with the new pavement at Indy, and all the work we’ve done so far, we’ll be able to show the world what the PBM Aprilia team is capable of! <I think we can, I think we can, I think we can..>

PS. Neil Hogdson gave us a glowing review in his UK MotoGP Half Term Report on BT Sport. You can see me  at the 30 mark, I’m the handsome guy in shades standing next to Michael Laverty. http://www.motorcyclenews.com/MCN/News/newsresults/General-news/2014/July/MotoGP-Half-Term-Report/

Michael Laverty & PBM Team Assen: 1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

michael-laverty-pbm-motogp-assen-2014
The Assen MotoGP round started off well enough, because it’s traditionally held on Saturday, we got an early start, with just a 5 hour drive from my home in Luxembourg and set up our pit box on Tuesday & Wednesday. The team had great accommodations near the track, staying in a row of townhouses were many of the other teams were staying, as well a travelling circus that was passing through town, which brought a bit of added amusement.

For this round, we tried a new approach with the bike: instead of using the settings from last year’s round at TT Circuit Assen, we started off with the settings chassis settings from Catalunya. It worked exceptionally well, with Michael Laverty running a full 2 seconds faster than his 2013 race lap times in FP1 & FP2 on Thursday. Friday’s qualifying didn’t go quite as well as we would have hoped. Michael decided to come in early in the session for fresh tires and  it began to spit rain. On his out lap, right as he hit turn 1, he encountered a group of riders that were preparing to pit in and had just chopped the throttles on their bike, killing his 1st chance at a fast flying lap. Keep in mind, the tires are at their absolute best for just a couple of laps, so in qualifying, a rider has a limited window of opportunity to nail a really good lap. The next lap, just before the first corner, Laverty came up on another group of riders who were this time, sitting on the line, waiting for a tow and that cost him a few 10ths, relegating him to 19th in qualifying. The upshot is that we’d start the race ahead of former world champion, Nicky Hayden, which was small comfort.

Saturday morning’s Warmup session went well, the chassis felt good, the sun was out and it ended with Michael 19th fastest and the PBM team feeling confident about the prospects for the race.  Then, in the Moto2 race, the heavens opened up and all hell broke loose, with rain & hail deluging the track. It seemed like it might dry in time for the main event, but the intermittent rain ended up pushing the start of the race back 20 minutes from the normal 1:40 pm starting time, as race directors debated on whether or to call it a wet race. It began pouring after michael finished his sighting lap & made his way to the grid, so we made the call to have him start the race on the back-up bike, which was set up for rain, with rain tires, metal brake rotors & ceramic pads in place of the carbon brakes on the dry bike, as well as an electronics strategy optimized for the limited traction on a wet track.

michael-laverty-pbm-motogp-assen-2014

We got back to the grid and almost the entire field had opted to start the race with their “wet” bikes, with the exception of PBM teammate, Broc Parkes, who’d bravely opted to start the race on slicks. The green flag drops, Michael  got a decent start and a call was made back in the paddock to prepare the primary bike for rain tires, too, so we began the swap, changing the brake pads & tires. After about 3 laps, it became clear that the track was beginning to dry, so Michael made the call to pit early and switch bikes. The only problem was, we were deep into converting it to rain and Michael was flagged on, as we set about correcting the team error and switching his bike back for operation with slicks. Michael put in another couple of laps and pitted in again, just as I’d buttoned up the front end, but the bike still wasn’t quite ready for action, so he passed by, down pit lane and back on the track. I could sense his frustration as he rode by and it was painfully clear that his team had let him down. Michael came in a 3rd time and jumped on the primary bike which was now ready, with the exception that the tires weren’t completely up to temperature. It took a couple or 3 laps around TT Circuit Assen for the tires to fully warm up and Michael was able to ride at a blistering pace. His laptimes would have had him battling for a top 10 position, but the damage had been done and instead, he was fighting to make up lost ground, instead of fighting for points.

After the races, Michael usually comes in, takes his helmet off, puts on his cap and chills before sitting down with his crew chief for what is usually a 20-30 minute debriefing session. This time, he came in and sat for about 5 minutes before a very short debriefing. Afterwards, he came up to me and said “Who’s idea was it to put the wets on the bike?” before storming off without saying goodbye. After he left, his buddy Ryan, who’d been helping out over the weekend mentioned “I’ve never seen Michael so out of sorts…” I had a long drive back to Luxembourg and plenty of time to consider our poor run of events. I got home and logged onto Facebook and found that Michael had made this comment on his Facebook page:

“Disaster for me 2day, I made the right call and was the first to come in for slicks but my bike wasn’t ready. 3 trips down pit-lane=race over! Great ride by Broc today, I would have been with him out there had my bike been ready, we both had good pace this wknd :-(“

Clearly, mistakes were made in the fog of battle. Without pointing fingers and placing blame, Michael Laverty’s team let him down, all of us. I wish our results had been different. Sachsenring and the German GP are up next and we will make up for our blunders and deliver. The reset button has been set and we’re ready. Let’s go.

Paul Bird Motorsport/Michael Laverty MotoGP Catalunya Wrap-up

Race week for the Monster Energy GP de Catalunya  started off rough, with my luggage lost by my airline for the first 2 days. So, I had the joy of wearing the same clothing three days in a row until my luggage showed up on Thursday. The Paul Bird Motorsports team set up Wednesday and began to prepare bikes on Thursday. After prepping bikes, we had some rare free time and Victor took Glen and I to the beach for a good swim and some sightseeing afterwards. We got to see the Sagrada Família, a cathedral designed by famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, nearly 100 years ago. Critics said that it couldn’t be built, but almost 100 yrs later, it’s still under construction, with completion estimated in 2016, the centenary of Gaudí’s death. Pictures don’t show the size and detail; it has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

Friday ‘s MotoGP Free Practice sessions went well. In FP1, we (Michale Laverty) rode bike ML2 with the set-up from Mugello, and a short 5 lap stint on ML1, using the setup data from PBM’s race there, last year. Michael preferred the ML2 chassis setup, so for FP2 we concentrated on small suspension adjustments and electronics. His quote for the day was “Catalunya circuit agrees with our bike, well the first 3/4 of the lap anyway, I’m enjoying being able to hang onto Factory bikes for a bit…”

Friday night, we headed back to the beach for a swim and a impromptu volley ball match. It seems that all of the beaches in Spain are topless and everyone is quite casual about it all. It’s definitely something that you don’t see back home in the states, Especially not in Florida! Victor and I teamed up for some beach volleyball and after a hard fought, 2-match series, Victor and I were victorious over Glen and Andrew, becoming “Champions of the World” for our own imaginary series. It was great having Victor show us around his home town and to have a little R&R during what’s usually an “all work, no play” race weekend!

Walking into the garage Saturday morning, there was a mention by our pit box neighbors from the Avintia Blusens & Marc VDS  teams, that we might have some water in our garage after the downpour Friday night. That was an understatement! We had a lot of water inundating the garage, so with the help of two ladies and their brooms, most of the standing water was pushed out and everything was hung up to air dry. For FP3, we tried a new fork used by most of the Moto2 teams that we installed Friday night which yielded a small improvement. During FP4, we made a few damping adjustments and  and tweaked the electronics strategies. We went into Qualifying with a good bike, Michael just put in his first laps and it started to spit rain. When he came into the pits to get his tires, he pulled into the garage to do the swap, thinking it might start raining. After putting a new rear tire in he immediately went back out but was not able to better his previous time on the new rear. Michael Laverty ended up qualifying 21st.

Saturday night, we stayed late to swap the motor in ML2, as well as swapping the suspension, and exhaust from ML2 to ML1. For for the Sunday morning warm up, we did not have the pace that we had on ML2 in the previous sessions. Had a good race with just being nipped out by our team mate. Michael said that he had several opportunities to pass Brock Parkes, but it would have meant stuffing him. While the saying goes that “Motorcycle racing is a team sport, but your teammate is the first person you want to beat on the planet,” you also have to spend a 19 race season in the same garage… Ultimately, Michael finished 17th, not 16th, right behind his teammate. We’re hoping to get on the other side of 16 and in the points at Assen this weekend, wish the team luck!!

Catalunya

 

PBM Mugello Italian MotoGP Wrap-up

Part of our Paul Bird Motorsport Crew, out to Dinner: our umbrella girl for the weekend, Dave, our alternate driver and paddock assistant, Michael Laverty,his fiance, Jodie Lee Davies, my wife Michele, Me, my daughter Grace and Glen, our driver, fuel man and pitboard operator.

Part of our Paul Bird Motorsport Crew, out to Dinner: our umbrella girl for the weekend, Dave, our alternate driver and paddock assistant, Michael Laverty, his fiance, Jodie Lee Davies, my wife Michele, Me, my daughter Grace and Glen Preece, our driver, tire guy, fuel man and pitboard operator.

The Paul Bird Motorsport team had an early start for the Italian GP: we arrived at our hotel in Mugello, tuesday night, which was nice, instead of checking in on Wednesdays and going straight to track, which we normally do. It was nice to get a night’s sleep before setup on wednesday. Set up went really quick on wednesday, we were fortunate to have Dave, a friend of our driver, Glen and felllow truck driver to help set up and pitch in this week. After setup, we all went for dinner at a 50’s-style diner in town that had great burgers, fries and milkshakes. I love the food in Europe and Italy, in particular, but every once in a while, it’s good to have a little taste of home.

Thursday, we got to tear down and and rebuild bikes.With the PBM team’s limited, privateer budget and a cap on the number of engines for the season, we find ourselves doing a lot of motor swaps and swap-backs. Keep in mind, this isn’t a simple motor swap like we had in AMA Pro Racing, where we could swap a GSXR powerplant in about an hour. Once the old engine is out, all of the ancillary parts have to be swapped over to the new motor. So, all of the covers, gearbox, generator, sensors and electronics have to be removed, inspected and cleaned, then installed into the new motor. After that’s done, the chassis has to be taken apart, inspected and cleaned, too, then it all goes back together. At the first MotoGP round of the season in Qatar, it took Victor and I about 4 hours; I bet Victor that this time, we could do it in less than 3. My wife Michele took pictures of us working with a clock for reference, we finished the swap and put everything back together in 2 hours and 28 minutes, also installing a new swingarm and new modified gas tanks to reduce fuel transfer under braking and improve handling and turn-in of Michael’s bike. In spite of swapping the motor in record time, we had our usual late night at the track; we didn’t get to leave until 11:00 PM.

Friday FP1 was all electronics work. Phil, our electronics tech had to do double duty, as Brock Parkes electronics tech received an offer to work for the Repsol Honda team and left after Le Mans. So, he had to work on both Michael’s and Brock’s electronics, which is a really complex job. The electronics strategies are specifically tailored to each riders style: Brock Parkes prefers to keep his wheels inline, relying on cornerspeed, while Michael Laverty uses the rear wheel to turn, so they have radically different electronics strategies that are built for their bikes. In addition, electronics strategies will vary from track to track, and even corner to corner, depending on the system. Mugello, for instance, is is fast and flowing, where a track like Jerez, is more point and shoot, which in each case requires a different strategy to be built in order to maximize tire grip for the type of track, composition of the Macadam and even the surface temperature. It’s really complex stuff! After FP1, we got 2 different chassis set ups ready for FP2, but we didn’t even make onto track due to the intermittent rain. So, there wasn’t much accomplished on Friday but electronics work in FP1. But, my Friday was topped off with my better half, Michele and part-time helper for the weekend, Grace showing up at early in the afternoon after their 3+ hour drive down from Milan!

FP3 on Saturday, was an excellent session for deciding on the direction to go with the chassis. We ran a similar set up to what we raced in Le Mans, with a couple small adjustments for the faster and more flowing circuit. We went from FP4 into Qualifying, with minimal chassis changes, but made of adjustments to the electronics. Again, big kudos to Phil B for running both sides of the garages electronics this week!

Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia's Michael Laverty in action at Mugelo. Photo by Gold & Goose

Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia’s Michael Laverty in action at Mugelo. Photo by Gold & Goose

After our qualifying session, in which Michael Laverty placed 20th, we swapped engine out of bike #2, with the engine that we took out of bike #1 on Thursday, due to some uncertainty regarding its power, as a back up for race. The morning warm up went as planned, with Michael putting in the 22nd fastest time. We didn’t make any big changes in the chassis for race, mostly, we focused on the electronics. Michael had a challenging 1st and 2nd lap, falling back to last place, but rode the wheels off of his PBM Aprilia, finishing 16th, just one place off of the points. While it’s been disappointing, our small team has made some incredible consistency: Michael Laverty’s Paul Bird Motorsports Aprilia has been the highest placing CRT in MotoGP in 5 of the 6 races so far. We will get in the points, either next weekend, in Catalunya, Spain, or the following race, in Assen, at the Dutch GP; I’m certain of it.

the madness of the Rossi Invasion: +100,000 fans stormed the front straight after the race!

the madness of the Rossi Invasion: +100,000 fans stormed the front straight after the race!

This race weekend has really put in perspective the AWESOMENESS of the job I have and the people that I get to meet & work with! While this is my job, I work really hard and put in long, long hours, deep down, I’m still a huge fan of motorcycle racing! It was simply incredible to be at this race for Valentino Rossi’s 300th Grand Prix; the enthusiasm of his fans is truly amazing, if not a little frightening after they stormed the barrier on pit lane, trying to get into the garages, doing anything to get pictures and memorabilia. It was truly intense, especially after the Carabinieri had to take control on pit row! The tribute parade for Marco Simoncelli was also incredible to watch, there weren’t many dry eyes as Loris Capirossi made laps on Marco’s 2011 Gresini Honda RCV211. Speaking of Honda, we’ve been next to the Repsol Honda team in the MotoGP garages for the past 3 rounds, which has been a study in contrasts between our small but mighty privateer effort and the biggest, most well-funded team in MotoGP. There’s no shortage of fans waiting outside their garage, just to get a glimpse of Marc Marquez & Dani Pedrosa. It’s been amazing, someone pinch me!.

 

PBM Aprilia & Michael Laverty: French Grand Prix Update From Le Mans

Wine
The Paul Bird Motorsports team got to Bugatti Circuit for the Monster Energy Gran Prix de France, at Le Mans on Wednesday and promptly got to work setting up our pit box. It was really nice unloading from truck for a change; we were evem able to get done at a decent time and have a nice team dinner to start off the race week. I also had the pleasure of having my 1st ever glass of red wine, courtesy of Severino & Son Hospitality, where we eat most of our meals on race weekends. That’s the PBM team’s engineer, Victor Morgado Perez, photobombing me in the picture above. Victor designed most of the brackets and parts on the chassis and is the other mechanic I work along side of on Michael Laverty‘s bike. The good looking guy in the hat, below, is Glen Preece, PBM’s driver. Glen is also responsible for Michael’s tires & fuel, mans the pit board and handles all the pit box duties. We’ve really got a skeleton crew making everything happen in the MotoGP paddock and fortunately both of these guys are really great to work with!

Glen

Thursday, we took out the motor that we tested with at Jerez and installed a new Aprilia RSV4 powerplant. Thursday night was a late one, as we also fitted new generation of throttle bodies, which made for some late night fabrication. We got to a kebab place not far from hotel at 11:45 and got to bed at 12:45. Friday morning’s weather was relatively cold for fp1, we didn’t make many changes to chassis, we mostly spent the 1st session working on electronics. For Fp2, the temp was better and and with it, the pace went up as well. There were a few small chassis adjustments made, but again we mostly worked on electronics. I got to get my hands wet with some chassis software for the first time, I’m definitely strengthening my arsenal.

Michael Laverty in action in FP2 on the PBM Aprilia. Photo by Gold & Goose

Michael Laverty in action in FP2 on the PBM Aprilia.
Photo by Gold & Goose

For Saturday morning’s Fp3, the temperature was cooler again, which didn’t make for much improvement in lap times. We tried two different chassis setups again in both fp3  and fp4. Qualifying was good; we made an on-the-fly decision to throw a hard compound Bridgestone on the bike instead of soft. Michael and the crew agreed that there wasn’t much to gain using the soft and we wanted to be able to get more laps on the hard.

Michael Laverty and the Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia team on the MotoGP Grid at Le Mans Phot by Gold & Goose

Michael Laverty and the Paul Bird Motorsport Aprilia team on the MotoGP Grid at Le Mans
Photo by Gold & Goose

For the warmup and race on Sunday, we decided to go back to our Argentina and Jerez setup. The race was a lonely one after first 2 laps… Michael got a great start, moving from 21st, up to 17th, exiting turn 1. Then, in lap 2, entering turn 1 in 17th place, he ran wide and lost several places. Michael then had to fight back to finish 16th again in 4 out of 5 races. While we would like to finish better, we’ve got a setup that’s working pretty consistently for us and we’re looking forward to the next race at the Italian Gran Prix in Mugello, Italy, next weekend!

Paul Bird Motorsports' Michael Laverty with the French GP crowd behind him at Bugatti Circuit, Le Mans, Fr Photo by Bonnie Lane

Paul Bird Motorsports’ Michael Laverty with the French GP crowd behind him at Bugatti Circuit, Le Mans, Fr
Photo by Bonnie Lane

Michael Laverty leads Karel Abraham, mike Di Meglio & Paul Bird Motorsports teammate, Broc Parkes in the French GP at Le Mans. Photo by Steve English

Michael Laverty leads Karel Abraham, mike Di Meglio & Paul Bird Motorsports teammate, Broc Parkes in the French GP at Le Mans.
Photo by Steve English

Jerez MotoGP Wrapup

The Paul Bird Motorsports team had a good week at the Jerez MotoGP round. we spent a lot of time getting familiar with the race truck, as it was the first time seeing it this season, being a European round and we had a lot of work to do. We had to transfer everything over from shipping crates to the truck and get it all sorted for the next few months while the MotoGP Circus is in Europe.

Waking up to this does not suck.

Waking up to this does not suck. The view of the Costa del Sol in Malaga

We stayed 30min from track in a small town near the beach, with a scenic drive to the track. Unfortunately, we were too busy with racing to actually take advantage of our proximity to the beach, but such is the racing life in MotoGP!  The team’s days were longer, with some late nights do to swap out motoros that had reached the end of their service life, getting into Circuito de Jerez on Wednesday and going straight to track for setup and bike maintenance.  We started on Friday in fp1 with the same chassis set up we had in Hondo for the Argentine GP, then tried a chassis setup from last year in bike #2, two very different setups in terms of geometry and handling! After fp2, we stayed with the chassis setup from Argentina, but pulled a late night saturday, putting in a fresh motor, as the previous one had gotten tired after 3 races worth of testing, qualifying and competition.

When it came to the race, Michael (Laverty) had a tough start, chassis setup is always a compromise, as conditions, fuel load and tire grip change throughout the course of the race. At Jerez the bike was having handling issues under a full fuel load and tire management was a problem with the Bridgestone B55 soft tires that many of the CRT and Production teams were using. The bike just didn’t have the pace to run as well as we would have liked.

"Annoyed I didn't have the pace to go with Colin and Hector today, pushed hard but it just wasn't happening." Michael Laverty  Photo by Gold & Goose.

“Annoyed I didn’t have the pace to go with Colin and Hector today, pushed hard but it just wasn’t happening.” Michael Laverty
Photo by Gold & Goose.

Monday’s test at Jerez was much more productive, we got the chassis from Argentina nailed down after making a few adjustments. Sometimes, the smallest changes can make the biggest differences. We moved the clip-ons 10mm lower and Michael was over the moon. “It was like a light came on.”  Michael said on the bike’s improved corner entry manners. “This is what I’ve been looking for!” Dropping the clip-ons allowed Laverty to get over the bars and weight the front tire better on the corners, which improved both his speed and confidence.

We spent the rest of Monday’s test working on the electronics, trying to improve our tire management and grip, late in the race. Once you start losing grip in the tires, the electronics take over to limit wheel spin and maximize traction. We made a lot of headway, with Michael Laverty turning consistent 1:41.3 laps after the tires had gone off. This ought to help at the next round at Le Mans.

PBM's Michael Laverty, putting in hot laps at Circuito de Jerez, Spain> Photo by Gold & Goose

PBM’s Michael Laverty, putting in hot laps at Circuito de Jerez, Spain>
Photo by Gold & Goose

After Monday’s test, we drove up the coast to Malaga, with gorgeous views of the Spanish coast from Gibraltar and awoke to a beautiful sunrise on the Costa del Sol. Sadly, we weren’t able to take advantage of it beyond the view, as we had to jump on a plane first thing for a quick hop to Barcelona, then back home to Luxembourg to my wonderful wife Michelle, without whom, none of this would be possible for me.

Austin & Argentina MotoGP Recap

Michael Laverty at the Argentine GP, photo by Gold & Goose, taken from Michael's facebook page:

Michael Laverty at the Argentine GP, photo by Gold & Goose, taken from Michael’s facebook page:

Michael Laverty’s result of 18th at Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo was not his best place finish, but it was without a doubt, his best MotoGP race so far. Michael finished 56 seconds behind the leader, Marc m Marquez, on his Rapid Solicitors Paul Bird Motorsports Aprilia, besting his previous best finish last year, of 1:09. This year, having two bikes to try different setups, allowed us to get the bike’s chassis setup much quicker, making for a great race bike on Sunday. Michael Laverty himself, summed it up well: “Good race for me today, that’s the first time I’ve finished less than 1min from the winner. It was our goal and tough to do on a CRT bike. I lost too much time in the early laps with full fuel load, but had really good pace throughout (the race).” We were fortunate to have hired a bus to drive us to and from the circuit everyday, which was an experience in itself; not only did we have our own driver, we also had our personal tour guide everyday and night. The people and businesses in Termas de Rio Hondo where awesome. We ate dinner in the hotel every night, no later than 20:30, which was very nice and a big difference from Austin where we had 4 nights of working until 01:30, building the second bike at the track. It was great to have big “E,” my dad, back working with me at Austin, as well as my mom, who took the great photos below. Thanks mom & dad, I love you both!

It’s been an intense couple of weeks, flying from our “home” base in Europe, to Austin, back to Europe for a weekend before jetting off to Argentina. I’m grateful for  the people who have helped me in my racing career, both on and off the bike: Tony Romo, Jim Allen, Bob Presby, Tony “Photo” Brown, Gary Holman, Bob Mann, Sean Prieto, Mike Fitzgerald & Barry Gilsenan! Stay tuned for more updates throughout the season, Jerez is next!