Starting from the back of the grid in all of the races, Mercado overcame adversity to take a hat-trick of top tens results; his best dry weather performances of 2019!
With WorldSBK fever sweeping across Argentina this weekend, Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was carrying the weight of not just his country but the entirety of South America on his shoulders. After Saturday and the Tissot Superpole session, it looked like it would be a home-round to forget for Mercado but coming from last in all three races, a fired-up ‘Tati’ made it to the top on all three occasions, much to joy of the home crowd.
Starting 19th across all races, Mercado had to come through the field like a hot knife through butter if he was to send his home fans into a frenzy. Lining up for Race 1, Mercado would finish up in ninth place, whilst he was tenth in the 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race, where he almost had the beating of 2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and 2010 WorldSBK runner-up, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).
Starting from stone-last again, Mercado put in yet another strong ride to come storming through the field, as high as seventh in the closing stages. A late charge from Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) put Mercado back to eighth but he completed all three races inside the top ten, a great weekend despite not being able to set a lap in Saturday Superpole due to a technical issue with his engine.
An outstanding performance on Sunday, Tati spoke of his home-round success: “I am really happy, but we didn’t start the weekend in the best way. I lost a lot of time on the track because I have some technical problems, and I also lost FP3 and the Superpole. On Saturday, when we went straight to the race, it wasn’t easy at all, but I finished ninth! On Sunday, we had two good races and a good Warm Up. I knew that we could make some good races. I pushed from the first lap to the last lap, and I am happy for the results, the feeling and to have three top tens in Argentina in front of friends and family; this result is for them!”
The Argentine rider’s strong weekend puts him 14th in the Championship standings, two points clear of Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). Mercado’s next target in the Championship is Michael Ruben Rinaldi in 13th place but he is some 43 points ahead of Tati, meaning that 14th is probably as good as it will get for the former FIM European Superstock 1000 Champion.
Mercado’s next target besides Rinaldi will be to try and give the Orelac Racing VerdNatura outfit a strong finish in the team standings, as they are just one point behind the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team. Ten points further ahead are Team Goeleven, in tenth overall.
Watch more action from the final round of the WorldSBK season in 2019 with the WorldSBK VideoPass!