The opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship got underway in dramatic fashion when the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar took place this weekend with PBM rider Broc Parkes scoring a brilliant point in 15th on his Grand Prix debut, as team mate Michael Laverty followed him home in 16th.
Round one at the Losail track in Doha marked another historic chapter in the Paul Bird Motorsport portfolio as both Laverty and Parkes were in action on the team's very own Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed PBM machines.
Both Ulsterman Laverty, in his second successive season for the Penrith based team, and the experienced Australian Parkes who was making his MotoGP debut, endured their fair share of bad luck during the extended free practice sessions aboard the Aprilia ART-powered machines in the Open class division, However, eventually it started to all come together and they qualified with Parkes on row seven and Laverty a row further back.
Hopeful of a good result under the floodlights, both riders for the only British team in the premier MotoGP class got good starts, Laverty's a bit too good as he was adjudged to have jumped the start which resulted in a ride through penalty a couple of laps into the race.
Both riders circulated in the top 20 for the opening laps before Parkes upped the pace and by lap nine, he was 17th with Laverty's penalty keeping him from progressing any higher than 20th. There they continued for most of the race before climbing the leaderboard towards the end of the race.
Parkes had made his way up to 15th with Laverty following him up the order going into the penultimate lap and that's how they crossed the line after 22 hectic laps to allow Parkes to score a vital point as Laverty just missed out.
The results mean that in the Open class standings, Parkes holds eighth place following his solitary points haul and importantly for the PBM team, they occupy sixth place in the manufacturer's table and tenth in the team's series going into the next race at Austin in Texas in two week's time.
Michael Laverty: "Well that was a better race than I expected after a difficult weekend. My pace was good enough for 14th but the ride through penalty cost me dear. All in all it's been a positive start to the championship for us with Broc getting a point on the board and I'm really happy with how I rode though the 16th position finish didn't really do it justice. I'm looking forward to Texas now as I had anticipated Qatar to be our toughest event of the season, in many ways it was but we still had a strong race."
Broc Parkes: "To get a point on my MotoGP debut was fantastic for both me and the team. I was having a good dice with a couple of the other Open class bikes and we got lucky with a couple dropping out but I'll happily take the result. It was a shame Michael had his penalty otherwise he'd have been up there with us so roll on the next race in Texas where hopefully we continue where we left off this weekend. The team did a great job for us all weekend and it's fantastic to be part of this."
Paul Bird, Team Owner: "After all the hard work we have done to get the bikes built and to be here, I'm absolutely made up for the whole team, I couldn't be prouder of them. We had some issues during practice but we worked hard to sort them out and in the race, both riders did a cracking job. For Broc to score a point for us on his MotoGP debut was fantastic and had Michael not been penalised at the start, we could have had two riders in the points. For both of them to remain on the lead lap as the winner after 22 tough laps was another tonic for us and we go to the next race full of confidence. Not bad for our little team from the Lake District!"
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "A satisfying start to the season for PBM with both riders achieving good results. For Broc to finish in the points in his first MotoGP race is especially pleasing and the experience will be a big help for him in the next races. Michael's jump start was frustrating as he had a strong pace in the race and could have scored points but for the penalty. The team have worked hard all weekend and we had a trouble free race after suffering a number of small issues during practice. Even with the penalty we have improved our race time since last year and we are confident that there is more performance we can achieve."