Round five of the MotoGP World Championship took place at Mugello in Italy this weekend but despite a valiant effort by PBM MotoGP team riders Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty, they fell agonisingly short of the points in 16th and 17th place respectively.
The Penrith team had scored points in the opening three rounds but the latest two outings have proved fruitless. However, after the disappointing showing in France a couple of weeks ago, there was much more to be positive about following the Italian GP which saw 24-year-old Colombian Hernandez set fifth fastest time in Friday's opening wet session on the Rapid Solicitors and Minxflix.com-sponsored Aprilia ART with 31-year-old Ulsterman Laverty in 20th place as he continued his progress of developing the Rapid Solicitors and Minxflix.com-sponsored PBM machine.
Both riders made good starts and in the opening laps, Hernandez, from Medelln, held 15th place with Laverty, from Toome in County Antrim, just one place further back. Hernandez held onto 15th for the first half of the race as Laverty was embroiled in a scrap with four other riders and on lap 12; they moved up to 14th and 18th place respectively.
Laverty was timed at 323kmh through the speed trap on the British-built machine as he battled it out with prototype rider Karel Abraham as he hung onto his position although Hernandez slipped back to 16th with five laps remaining. Mark Marquez crashing out with a couple of laps to go elevated each PBM rider up a place and it looked as if they might squeeze into the points but sadly they fell just short although they took consolation that it was another important pair of finishes in the Claiming Rules Teams (CRT) class.
Despite not adding to their points score, both Laverty and Hernandez remain tied on points in 18th place in the MotoGP World Championship and equal fourth in the CRT standings going into the next round at Catalunya in two weeks time . PBM remain in seventh place in the Constructors Championship in their debut season with their brand new British-built machine.
Michael Laverty: "I'm pleased I kept up my 100% finishing rate but it was a difficult race for me, the toughest I've had yet in MotoGP. I pushed hard towards the end to get back onto Yonny and Karel to fight for the last point but it wasn't to be today. Mugello is a difficult circuit to master and as it was my first visit I don't think I was able to maximise the practice sessions to get the optimum race set up. We move onto Catalunya hopeful that we can take a step forward."
Yonny Hernandez: "I am happy to have finished this race after not finishing the last two, but unhappy not to have scored some points after being in the top 15 for most of the race. For the first half of the race the bike was working well, but then I had some chatter, which got worse towards the end and it was impossible to maintain my pace. If we can solve this problem I am sure I can score some points at the next race."
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "It has been another frustrating weekend, as we missed scoring points by less than two seconds. Yonny was having a good race until he started to experience some vibration after half distance, so we need to understand what caused it to avoid suffering it in the future. For Michael after a good qualifying, it was a difficult race, as we could not find a setting that he was comfortable with, or that gave him confidence, particularly in corner entry. The next round will again be a new circuit for him to learn, but after analysing his data from this weekend we hope to find some improvements."
Round six of the MotoGP World Championship takes place at Catalunya on Sunday 16th June.
Paul Bird Motorsport