WorldSBK visits Barcelona for round eight of the 2022 campaign with high expectations in the Honda camp from riders Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona
It’s a home round for Team HRC and their riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, with the Spanish pairing readying for action on a track they know well. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya hosts the eighth round of the season and marks the return to familiar territory for both rookies, who in the last three rounds have had to acclimatise and adapt to new tracks. However, with a strong performance in testing at the Catalan venue, could it be Honda who are knocking on the door of the podium once again, just like the one they achieved last year with Alvaro Bautista.
Lecuona and Vierge have an abundance of experience at the circuit, with Vierge taking a podium at the track in Moto2™. For Lecuona, he’s had MotoGP™ experience but also has plenty of WorldSBK experience at the circuit, with plenty of testing. During pre-season, Lecuona was particularly fast and towards the top of the times, something he was able to repeat in the mid-season summer test, when he was inside the top three. Lecuona is in the battle for fourth overall in the Championship, with his consistency being key and leaving him just 27 points behind fourth-placed Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), despite a difficult Magny-Cours.
Speaking ahead of their home round, both riders gave their prediction for the weekend ahead, with Lecuona – despite being slightly unwell – keen to get going: “I’m excited to start this weekend. The last test here we did in the summer break; we went fast and I felt good with the bike. I finished second with everybody on track. I have a good potential this weekend. If I’m honest, I have higher expectations for myself. I feel good with the bike in the winter and in the summer. I like this track with this bike at this moment. The answer now is the weather.”
Vierge has not yet stepped onto the rostrum in his rookie campaign but will be hoping he can change that in Barcelona, looking to break his duck in WorldSBK. Vierge’s best result so far in WorldSBK is fourth in the Tissot Superpole Race at Misano while he has ten top-ten finishes in his rookie campaign. He comes into the weekend on the back of two crashes at Magny-Cours but will be looking to bounce back at his home round.
Talking about the prospects of the weekend, Vierge is keen for a first podium in WorldSBK: “Of course, it’s one of the targets. It’s the place to do it. We have been very fast in both tests, especially with the race pace. We will try to be focused, try to forget about the results and try to be focused on ourselves and getting the maximum. If we do a good job on Friday especially, we will be ready to try and fight for the top positions.”
Continuing, the home-hero hailed it a “special” event: “I’m really happy to be here. It’s a special race of the season. Really looking forward especially because the last three rounds were new tracks for me, and it was hard. Luckily, we have done two tests here that went really well. I’m really looking forward to starting here and to enjoy it.”
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