Laverty needs an Assen win
MICHAEL Laverty has been a frustration to watch this year – that's the view of former British Superbike champion James Whitham.
But Whitham backed him to come good when the Showdown phase gets underway in Assen this weekend.
The Samsung Honda rider currently sits fourth in the overall standings on podium credits, 21 points behind overall leader, defending champion and Laverty's former team-mate Tommy Hill.
In pre-season, Laverty, who left Swan Yamaha last summer to switch to the Louth-based Samsung Honda team, was tipped by many to be Hill's main challenger after some scorching performances in testing.
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And with that in mind, a return of only two race wins all season, the last of which was at the round in Knockhill back in June, has underwhelmed Whitham.
But a gap of only 21 points is hardly critical – and Whitham has warned his rivals that Laverty could still have a big say in where the BSB title ends up.
"I think Michael has under-performed this season if I'm honest," said Witham.
"He had a massive pre-season and looked like he was the man to beat coming into the opener.
"I thought he was going to be a front-runner from the beginning, but it took him a while to get into the swing of things.
"We know the bike is good and I think he's had some good results but, overall, I think he should be coming into this Showdown with more credits under his belt.
"He has a chance of winning the championship if things go his way but he will need some really big performances to pull it out of the bag."
Last year Laverty also qualified through to the Showdown in fourth, but could not upset the top trio of Shane Byrne, John Hopkins and Hill after a big crash at Donington.
Hill and Byrne are back above him this time around as well, with Australian Josh Brookes also in the mix.