The Penrith-based Paul Bird Motorsport team brought down the curtain on their three-year MotoGP participation with another fitting double finish in today's GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.
The 18th and final round of the 2014 MotoGP Wold Championship in Spain saw Ulsterman Michael Laverty claim 19th place with Australian team-mate Broc Parkes following home inside the top 20 for the only British team in MotoGP.
Former British Supersport Champion Laverty, on the Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed Aprilia ART-powered PBM, and twice runner-up in the World Supersport Championship Parkes, aboard the Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed PBM, showed good pace in free practice and qualifying and lined up on row eight of the grid.
With one of the strongest fields of the year assembled, both riders made good starts but in the early laps, rain started to fall meaning conditions were difficult. The rain eventually came to nothing but as has been so often the case this year, the attrition rate was so low as Laverty and Parkes battled up the order.
Laverty made it into the top 20 on lap 22 and climbed to 19th a couple of laps later on whereby he was followed by Parkes and although Parkes was put a lap in arrears on the very last lap and crossed the line in 20th, Laverty held on to claim 19th on the same lap as eventual winner and 2014 World Champion Marc Marquez.
Although disappointed on missing out on points following their recent good run, the PBM team can be justifiably pleased with their performances which have seen the Cumbrian team make it 31 finishes out of the 36 races this season for the British-made machine.
Highlights of 2014 include the team's best ever MotoGP result when Laverty finished 12th and Parkes in 14th in Sepang which was the second time this season that the riders had brought both the British-built PBM machines home in the points, which also happened in Indianapolis, and added to the team's points scoring rides in Losail, Assen and Phillip Island.
Both riders finished level on points in the MotoGP World Championship standings in equal 23rd place and also, both Parkes and Laverty ended up joint tenth in the Open class standings. Parkes claimed third in Rookie of the Year whilst importantly for the PBM team, they claimed sixth place in the Constructor's table and 12th in the team's standings.
Winners of over 150 races in British Superbike Championship, World Superbike Championship, MotoGP CRT, 125cc, 250cc, Supersport and Superstock British Championships, Isle of Man TT, North West 200, Daytona, Macau GP, and British domestic races. Points scorers in 125cc, 250cc and 500cc and MotoGP, as well as in World Supersport, podium finishers in WSB, Superpole winners in World Superbike, PBM is one of the most successful motorcycle racing teams in history. For 2015, they will be increasing their profile as defending champions in the MCE British Superbike Championship as well as a major campaign at the International Road Races including the North West 200, Isle of Man TT, Ulster Grand Prix and Macau Grand Prix.
Indeed, the statistics regarding their three seasons as the only all-British team in MotoGP certainly stack up favourably with a finishing rate of over 77% of races entered during that time, two of which were with their own chassis built at the team's base in the Lake District.
Michael Laverty: "The weather made it quite a strange race today as right from the very first lap we had big drops of rain on our visors. I had good pace when the track was fully dry, but found it tough when the track got greasy as my rear tyre had began to cold tear. All in all it's been a good weekend, I was really happy with the lap time I pulled out in qualifying and we had a good setting going into the race today. It's a bit emotional today as it's the final MotoGP for the PBM team, but I'm finishing with a smile on my face, it's been a great life experience and I feel I'm a stronger rider for it. I'd like to thank all the guys in the team for a great two years and a special thank you to Paul Bird and Phil Borley for making it happen."
Broc Parkes: "Although it was disappointing not to score points in the team's final MotoGP race, I'm pleased we got another finish as conditions were very difficult in the early stages. My first season in MotoGP has been memorable and I'm proud of the fact that I scored PBM their best result of the season with 11th at Assen. I'd like to thank the team, Paul Bird and Phil Borley for this opportunity and wish them well in the future."
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "We did not quite achieve the results we were capable of in our last MotoGP race, mainly because both Michael and Broc were more cautious when it started to rain. It was a pity the rain disrupted their rhythm as they both had a good pace and would have finished with a smaller gap to the front if the rain had stayed away. Racing in MotoGP has been a great challenge for PBM and I believe we have achieved some respectable results considering the support and resource we have had. I would like to say a big thank you to the guys in the team for their work this year, as well as all the people who have helped us in the last three years."
Image courtesy of Gold & Goose: Michael Laverty in action at Valencia
PBM Stats - MotoGP 2012 to 2014
2012 (James Ellison, Aprilia ART)
Finish Rate: 77.78%
Points Scored: 35
Best Result 9th (Sepang & Valencia)
2013 (Michael Laverty, Yonny Hernandez and Damian Cudlin, Aprilia ART/PBM)
Finish Rate: 66.66%
Points Scored: 10
Position: (Hernandez 18), Laverty 25, Cudlin -
Best Result: 13th (Laverty in Jerez & Hernandez in Laguna Seca)
2014 (Michael Laverty & Broc Parkes, Aprilia ART/PBM)
Finish Rate: 86.11%
Points Scored: 18
Position: (Parkes 23rd, Laverty 24th)
Best Result: 11th (Parkes in Assen)
Years in MotoGP: 3
Finish Rate 77.62%
Points Scored: 63