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Laverty Faultless With Sunflower Hat Trick


Michael Laverty ended the 2010 season in fine style, taking a hat trick of Superbike victories on his Relentless by TAS Suzuki at the Sunflower Trophy Races on Saturday in Northern Ireland.

Laverty dominated all practice sessions, comfortably dipping inside the Bishopscourt circuit lap record on his way to pole position, and when it came to race action, the British Superbike star put in three faultless performances. It takes his Sunflower Trophy success tally to six since 2002 and the 29-year-old now has a phenomenal record of 18 career victories in all classes at the prestigious end-of-season event.

Team mate Alastair Seeley made a number of minor changes throughout the day, improving the set-up on his GSX-R1000 Superbike and ended the day with a podium, as did Relentless by TAS Suzuki debutant James Westmoreland in the Supersport class.

Michael Laverty:
"That was the perfect way to cap off what has been a successful and enjoyable season. It was quite a dominant weekend for us as we lead every practice session and every lap in all three Superbike races. My Relentless by TAS Suzuki was working perfectly and never missed a beat. I was almost a little over confident and when Ian upped his pace during the main event, I was caught off guard and had to respond. I wasn't at my limit and had plenty in reserve, so I managed to pull a small gap and won the Sunflower Trophy for the sixth time. It was an enjoyable day and I'd like to thank the whole team for a big effort and all our sponsors for making it happen."

Alastair Seeley:
"I was a bit frustrated and disappointed but that final race podium lifted my spirits. I got involved in a drag race off the line with Michael in the last Superbike race, but when Marshall dived under me then got ejected, I had to brake hard to miss his bike and Michael got away. Ian then came past and tried to make a break, but I managed to get onto the back of him, although I couldn't quite get the drive I wanted out of the turns to have a go at him. I didn't want to bin it, so I just brought my GSX-R1000 Superbike home for a podium to finish the season on a positive note. I also took a second off my best ever lap around Bishopscourt so I was pretty pleased with that. Thanks to the boys in the workshop and the whole team for a very enjoyable year."

James Westmoreland:
"It was always going to be a difficult weekend on a new bike at a new track, but we were realistic and did a good job in a limited timeframe. It took a bit of time to set the bike up to suit me on Wednesday and Thursday, but I was very impressed with the whole set-up within the Relentless by TAS Suzuki team and really enjoyed riding their GSX-R600. I have to say I was not on the limit with their bike, and had we had a little more time I could have done a lot more, although I was happy to give the team a podium in the second race. That was the icing on the cake. I must say it was a real pleasure to work with team; they worked very hard and did everything they could for me and I gelled well with them. I would like to thank Hector and Philip for the opportunity."

Philip Neill - Team Manager:
"Today was the perfect end to a fantastic season for our team. Everyone has worked so hard and to win the Sunflower Trophy for a fourth time - Michael's sixth- is testament to our group effort. Michael again proved he is a master of the Sunflower event and with his effortless style he never looked like he would be beaten all day, also demonstrating the strength of the Relentless by TAS Suzuki GSX-R1000.

"Alastair also showed progress this weekend by lapping faster than he has ever done before at Bishopscourt, and in his defence he came up against some stiff opposition, which included a World Superbike machine. It was very pleasing to see him end up where he started his season at Brands Hatch: on the podium.

"James Westmoreland joined us for a one-off appearance and with very little track time on an unfamiliar GSX-R600, he posted a podium behind two former World Supersport machines. What made his performance particularly impressive was the fact that he was running a specification we may see in the British Supersport Championship in 2011. Basically the bike had no electronic gimmicks like traction control.

"Finally I'd just like to thank our riders, team members and our loyal sponsors and partners for their support throughout 2010 in what has been a great season for everyone involved."

Sunflower Race:
1 Michael Laverty [Relentless by TAS Suzuki] 11: 12.462 ;
2 Ian Lowry [Kawasaki] +2.506sec;
3 Marshall Neill [Honda] +9.483;
4 John Laverty [Kawasaki] +9.742;
5 Alastair Seeley [Relentless by TAS Suzuki] +10.331 ;
6 Barry Burrell [Kawasaki] +16.385.

Superbike Race 1:
1 Michael Laverty [Relentless by TAS Suzuki] 10:09.509 ;
2 Marshall Neill [Honda] +3.552sec;
3 Ian Lowry [Kawasaki] +3.715;
4 John Laverty [Kawasaki] +3.948;
5 Alastair Seeley [Relentless by TAS Suzuki] +7.653 ;
6 Brian McCormack [Honda] +16.555.

Superbike Race 2:
1 Michael Laverty [Relentless by TAS Suzuki] 10:07.309 ;
2 Ian Lowry [Kawasaki] +7.331sec;
3 Alastair Seeley [Relentless by TAS Suzuki] +8.006 ;
4 Barry Burrell [Kawasaki] +18.269;
5 Michael Dunlop [Honda] +21.856;
6 Brian McCormack [Honda] +25.426.

Supersport Race 1:
1 Marshall Neill [Honda] 10:21.827;
2 Sam Lowes [Honda] +0.122sec;
3 Ben Wilson [Kawasaki] +0.441;
4 James Ellison [Honda] +2.959;
5 Kirk Jamison [Yamaha] +4.792;
6 James Westmoreland [Relentless by TAS Suzuki] +11.186.
 
Supersport Race 2:
1 Marshall Neill [Honda] 10:24.603;
2 James Ellison [Honda] +0.955sec;
3 James Westmoreland [Relentless by TAS Suzuki] +5.447 ;
4 Billy McConnell [Yamaha] +5.896;
5 Michael Dunlop [Honda] +6.146;
6 Kirk Jamison [Yamaha] +6.475.

Image courtesy of Derek Clegg & Gavan Caldwell.

Photos
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