(left) Eugene Laverty, (right) Ciaran McDonnell, Gene’s younger brother
The helmet will be modelled on Gene’s retro green helmet which Gene painted himself.
The Catalan GP this weekend will mark the 30th birthday of Ireland’s sole MotoGP rider Eugene Laverty. June is historically the month of the Isle of an TT races, an event that has been running for more than 100 years now. Born on the 3rd of June in 1986, Eugene was named after a close family friend of the Laverty family, Eugene (Gene) McDonnell, who was tragically killed during the Junior TT race just one day later on the 4th of June 1986.
Sheelagh Laverty gave birth to two twin boys in 1986, Eamonn and Eugene. As fate would have it Eugene was the one that grew up with a burning desire to race motorcycles together with his two elder brothers Michael and John. Eugene’s father Mickey was a racer himself during the 1970s but by 1986 Mickey had long hung up his leathers and instead chose to help local riders if and when he could. Gene McDonnell was born and raised in Portglenone, just twenty minutes from the Laverty family home in Toomebridge. Mickey Laverty supported Gene in his bid to climb the racing ladder and in 1985 Gene became the 350cc Irish Champion.
Thirty years have passed since the untimely death of Gene McDonnell in 1986, a year that looked set to be a breakthrough year for Gene’s career as he fought to become Formula 2 World Champion. In Gene’s memory Aspar Ducati rider Eugene Laverty will wear a special replica helmet of Gene McDonnell this weekend in Catalunya.
Eugene Laverty: “It’ll be a great honour to wear a replica of Gene’s helmet this weekend in Barcelona. Gene was destined for great things before his untimely death and I’m proud to be able to carry his name at the pinnacle of racing. Gene’s brother Ciaran came up with the idea of the tribute helmet and I’m really excited to see how it turns out. I owe a huge thank you to my sponsor Shoei for supporting this project.
A few of Gene’s family members will travel to Barcelona this weekend to join us for the weekend and I would love to achieve a top eight finish in his memory. Gene was an incredibly brave man and so I will wear his helmet with pride this weekend at the Catalan Grand Prix.”