Eugene Laverty hits out at BMW axe – “More to this job than results"

Eugene Laverty is upset to discover he has been axed from BMW Motorrad's 2021 WorldSBK rider line-up just three rounds into the 2020 season

Eugene Laverty - BMW Motorrad WorldSBK

Eugene Laverty has taken aims at his own BMW Motorrad outfit on discovering he will be dropped from its rider line-up for the 2021 WorldSBK Championship, saying there ‘is more to this job’ than basing its choice from the results of two race weekends.

Earlier this week BMW confirmed it would be retaining Tom Sykes for 2021, pairing him with the already confirmed Michael van der Mark, who will switch from Yamaha for next season.

The announcement leaves Laverty looking for a new team only three rounds into his term with the German manufacturer.

BMW S1000RR 2019 Onboard

It’s a situation he has struck out at, saying if BMW was only willing to look at the results of the two most recent events then ‘someone in the stands’ could have made the decision, arguing the motorcycle is in development and he is getting up to speed.

"If you find out something like this before the race weekend, it is not exactly great," Laverty told Speedweek ahead of this weekend’s fourth round at Motorland Aragon. “On paper, Tom finished the races ahead of me, that's clear. But if you're making a decision based on that alone, then you can ask someone in the stands who to pick. There is more to this job. Making such a decision is tough. Based on the results of two race weekends. And on a motorcycle that is in development.”

Though the interrupted 2020 WorldSBK season is in its relative infancy, Laverty has struggled on paper to get on terms with Sykes, who has a year’s experience of the BMW S1000RR package from 2019. While the Irishman accepts the unusual format of the year lends to decisions being made out of sync, he criticised BMW for ‘revealing its cards too early’.

“Decisions have to be made and every decision has consequences, in this case I'm without a job. What can I say? Before BMW, only Kawasaki announced its full line-up. With them it's understandable because they have five times world champion in Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes led the world championship after Phillip Island, so you don't have to think about that. 

“BMW is the second works team to commit. If this were a game of poker, they didn't play it right. You only reveal your cards when necessary. There was no pressure. If I had chosen the drivers, I would have postponed my decision.”

What next for Eugene Laverty in WorldSBK?

Despite Laverty’s defence, it has been a disappointing start to life in BMW colours relative to the rider who beat him to the 2013 WorldSBK Championship title, with a best finish of just 10th from the opening three rounds.

In fairness the BMW S1000RR has looked a step below the might of Kawasaki, Ducati and Yamaha this year, arguably more so than in 2019 when it was a fresh bike, with Sykes’ sheer prowess over a single lap arguably betraying its disparity in race trim.

Crashes at all three events so far haven’t helped his cause, with Laverty now behind Marco Melandri – who missed the season opener – in the overall standings.

It’s unclear where Laverty could factor into the 2021 WorldSBK deals, though it doesn’t help he is being retrospectively shown up by Michael Ruben Rinaldi on the Go Eleven Ducati he raced in 2020. Still, he admits one benefit of the early decision is it gives him a chance to pitch for a wider selection of potentially available seats.

“I felt like this two years ago and there was almost nothing left. As a manufacturer, I would still decide that it was the best for me. I would have looked at how the drivers' performance was developing. There was really no rush, and the second and third best teams in the championship have not yet confirmed their line-up either. 

“Neither Tom nor I had any pressure from the other side, BMW had full control over everything. But now they have made that decision. I can't complain, Tom's race results were better than mine. "