Home hero shines on day one of the Motul Argentinian Round
Riding in front of your home fans for the first time is always a fantastic experience, but when it’s also the first time the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship travels to your home country the stakes are raised higher still. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was as proud as they come on Friday at the Circuito San Juan Villicum, and that showed out on track, with the Argentinian rider finishing Free Practice in eighth position and qualifying directly for Saturday’s Superpole 2.
With the timesheets fluctuating incessantly from one session to the other, ‘Tati’ was incredibly consistent, ending each one inside the top ten. It took a last gasp personal best lap to write him in for tomorrow’s qualifying shootout, but the man from Córdoba is there, having outpaced regular frontrunners such as Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).
As the sun set on day one, the 26-year-old could hardly contain his smile: “It feels amazing. I feel really good because I have a good feeling with my bike, I really like the track, I have a big support, all the people here… It’s a special race for me, I’m really enjoying it”.
This was Mercado’s first time tackling the Argentinian track, as was the case for everyone else. With no reference points or data, this was a more challenging Friday than most: “The track is changing from session to session. It’s still a bit dirty, but now there’s more rubber”.
“I’m really happy with the feeling on my bike, we improved a little bit in the last session and I’m really happy to be in the Superpole 2 after trying all year. To make it happen here in my home race feels good. But the important thing is tomorrow”, he adds.
Find out how Mercado deals with his home track on day two at San Juan, with Superpole 1 & 2 and Race One available live thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.