Eugene Laverty races to World Superbike double at Monza
Eugene Laverty raced to a double success in the World Superbike Championship at Monza on Sunday.
The Yamaha rider from Toomebridge secured his first world superbike win with victory in the opening race.
Laverty then fought his way through the field before nipping ahead of team-mate Marco Melandri on the final corner to win the second race.
Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea was sixth in the first race before crashing out on the opening lap of the second race.
Laverty won the opener in Italy by 1.6 seconds ahead of Max Biaggi and Leon Haslam.
Rea and Haslam collided early in the second race and this held up Laverty, who slipped down the field.
Laverty lost another two places after running off the track, but he worked his way through and into a thrilling duel with team-mate Melandri, with the pair benefiting from a penalty handed out to long-time leader Biaggi.
The 24-year-old held back until the last corner of the race, where he surged past Melandri to take the victory.
Laverty moves from ninth to fifth in the standings after his heroics and now just four points behind Rea.
"I can't believe I have a double victory," said a delighted Laverty.
"My aim this week was to get a podium finish and I come away with two wins - it's an incredible feeling.
"I made an average start in the second race, two of the guys closed in on me and then there was a crash in front of me.
"It was a hectic race and I was having trouble with the front tyre. It was soft for the hot conditions and I lost some time.
"When it came to the last few laps and it was just me and Marco, I couldn't believe my luck.
"It's great for the the team to get a one-two and I've been told the beers are on me."