One of the most dramatic rounds of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship took place at Gran Premio Movistar de Aragon at Motorland in Spain today as the weather played a part although sadly for PBM MotoGP duo Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes, they just missed out on the points.
The Penrith-based PBM team were looking to build on the double finish at Misano two weeks ago at the last of the European rounds before the three flyaway races in Japan, Australia and Malaysia.
Free Practice and Qualifying didn't quite go to plan for Ulsterman Laverty, on the Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed Aprilia ART-powered PBM, nor Australian team-mate Parkes, on the Silkolene-backed PBM, neither of whom could break into the top 20.
Yesterday's qualifying session didn't offer much improvement with former British Supersport Champion Laverty on row seven of the grid with Parkes, twice runner-up in the World Supersport Championship, one row further back.
With dampness in the air as the bikes lined up for today's 23-lap race, and with rain a distinct possibility, the race got underway with both PBM riders making good starts. However, for Laverty it was short lived when a mistake on the opening lap lost him valuable time and from there he had to play catch up.
Parkes, meanwhile, had got away well as he diced with a number of Open class bikes, whereby he was eventually joined by Laverty and the pair circulated for much of the race just outside the points before the forecast rain arrived with around eight laps to go.
Eventually, both riders pitted to change bikes and rejoined the race but try as they might, they couldn't just squeeze into the points with Laverty crossing the line in yet another 16th place with Parkes two places further back in 18th.
It was the sixth time this season that Michael had just missed out on points in 16th and for Broc; it was his second successive 18th place. Despite the frustration, the Cumbrian team can take consolation that out of the 28 available finishes so far this season, Laverty and Parkes between them have brought the British-made bikes home in 25 of them, remarkably scoring top 20 placings in 21 races.
Parkes, who holds 21st in the championship table, has scored points in Assen (11th), as well as in Qatar and Indianapolis (15th) whereas Laverty, who occupies 24th in the standings, has managed just the one points scoring ride into 14th, also at Indianapolis, where both riders created history for Paul Bird's British team to score points in the same race.
Parkes is eighth in the Open class standings and third in Rookie of the Year. Laverty still occupies 11th in the Open class whilst importantly for the PBM team, they hold sixth place in the Constructor's table and 11th in the Team's standings.
The PBM MotoGP team is next in action at Motegi in two weeks' time for round 15 of the series, followed by back to back weekends at Phillip Island and Sepang before the final race of the season in Valencia on November 9th.
Michael Laverty: "That was a strange race today; I ran off track on the opening lap and lost a chunk of time. My pace in the dry wasn't quite as good as I had anticipated due to some cold tear on the rear tyre but I managed to claw back the guys in front. The rain began around half distance and made it a case of survival for a few laps before pitting for rain tyres. I finished up with another 16th position in the end which seems to be our favoured spot this year."
Broc Parkes: "I got a good start and was hanging onto the back of the Forward bike and Hondas but started to lose rear grip. Then the rain came and I stayed out too long on slicks and missed the window. I was happy with my pace this weekend just a little unlucky in the race."
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "We have struggled for pace at Aragon and have not been as competitive as I think we could have been, possibly due to the level of grip, so overall a frustrating weekend. The conditions for the race were very difficult and it was a pity we just missed out on the points, especially with so many factory riders having problems. We will continue trying to improve our performance at the next race in Japan."
Image courtesy of Gold & Goose: Michael Laverty in action at Aragon