HOT HEADLINES FROM HONDA: new suppliers, 2022 rivals and evolving the bike

Tuesday, 15 February 2022 13:40 GMT

Riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge alongside Team Manager Leon Camier discussed all things rivals, suppliers and the upcoming season after the team’s virtual launch

Team HRC became the first team to show off their 2022 colours ahead of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship seasons with riders Iker Lecuona, Xavi Vierge and Team Manager Leon Camier. Following the launch, the trio were able to answer questions from a switch of suspension and brake supplier, important testing coming up, the evolution of the CBR1000RR-R machine and joining WorldSBK.


Throughout winter testing, Honda have been seen to be testing out Showa suspension for the 2022 campaign having previously used Öhlins in 2020 and 2021, as well as trying Nissin brakes instead of Brembo. Team Manager Camier explained the thought process behind the switch and what work still needs to be done ahead of the season-opening Aragon Round.

He said: “The reason for the change of suppliers is that we feel there is room to improve with the new suppliers. With Showa, they’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes to try and improve their product. The rest of the field are on Öhlins apart from Kawasaki. They’ve won the last six World Championships until last year. The quality of Showa is unquestionable. The same with Nissin. We feel they’re having a big push behind the scenes and this is something we want to be involved in. It’s something we tested earlier on, the first test with both riders was on Showa suspension. First impressions were very good. As time goes on, we will keep improving the setup we’ve got. There are many options, many parts with Showa that we still have to test.”


Although both are heading into their debut WorldSBK campaign, Lecuona and Vierge have already been able to identify who they believe their rivals will be in the 2022 season, with Honda having tested twice including with other factory teams. With both hoping for immediate success in the Championship following their switch from the MotoGP™ paddock, Lecuona and Vierge have already set their eyes on who they need to beat.

Discussing who is on his ‘list’ of rivals, Lecuona said: “I think the biggest rivals in WorldSBK are Toprak and Rea because Rea won for a lot of years and Toprak won last year but we know the level they have is very high. If I’m honest, when I check the whole grid, I need to include on the list Alvaro because he’s with the Ducati bike. Rinaldi and also Xavi because he’s my teammate! There’s a lot of strong riders.”

Vierge added: “We are new in the Championship but if we follow in the last test in Portimao, the guys to beat are, of course, Toprak, Rea but also Alvaro was really strong. We checked his race pace and for sure he will be there. The level, every year, is getting higher and higher and there will be many riders fighting for the top positions.”


After riding with Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Honda made a complete change to their rider line-up by bringing in Lecuona and Vierge. Both have tested on two occasions for their new team, with both tests at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, with plenty of new components to try. Vierge was able to explain the evolution of the bike from the 2021 model to what has been tested so far in off-season testing.

Discussing this, Vierge explained: “The direction is clear. At the moment, we are testing many, many things. The good point is that Iker and I have more or less the same feedback and also the feedback the riders before had. They were working in the right direction and every item we are trying; we are improving ourselves and also the feeling with the bike and, of course, lap times. Comparing both bikes, I can say that the new bike is an easier bike to ride. We need more days to take all that potential but for sure we are going in the right direction.”


After spending time in MotoGP™ and Moto2™, Lecuona revealed his thoughts on joining Team HRC and WorldSBK for the 2022 season with the Spanish rider acknowledging the role of being wanted by Honda’s factory team. His change of number, from #27 in MotoGP™ to #7 in WorldSBK, was partially influenced by 2011 Champion Carlos Checa with Lecuona acknowledging his compatriot as part of his reason to switch to WorldSBK. Lecuona said: “I’m really happy! It’s different changing from MotoGP™ to WorldSBK but always I have said the same: I am here because I love the bike, I love to win, I love to feel the factory believe in me and I think, for me, it is positive in every aspect. For my career, I think it is very positive. When I was a kid, I followed WorldSBK and this is why I have the #7. I’m really happy to stay here.”

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