Spanish rider Iker Lecuona is aiming high on home soil as he looks to add to his WorldSBK podium tally
It was a strong first day of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s visit to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) as he topped the opening session of the day during the Catalunya Round. The Spanish rookie already has one podium to his name in WorldSBK and he admitted before the round that he had “higher expectations” of himself on home soil, at a track he knows well from his MotoGP™ career and it is also a venue he has gone quick at with Team HRC in both winter and summer testing.
During FP1, Lecuona set a time of 1’41.396s to get fastest in the opening 45-minute session by more than half-a-second over Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in second place, while the three title contenders were in third, fourth and fifth respectively. Lecuona’s lap time was under the race lap record set by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) in last year’s Tissot Superpole Race as he showed his strong pace from the off in FP1.
Explaining his Free Practice 1 time, Lecuona said: “P1 on this first day is not 100% real but it’s true that I have the speed. I worked alone all day. In the morning, in FP1, I put the SCQ tyre on because we need some data for the Superpole Race. I also used the SCX where my lap time is three tenths slower than Toprak and Rinaldi. I go close, I go alone, and I feel confident.”
Lecuona finished the second 45-minute practice in 12th place, while teammate Xavi Vierge was up inside the top five to show Honda’s pace across both machines. Around half the field improved their time in FP2, including Vierge, while the other half did not with Lecuona’s FP1 time enough to top the combined classification. Lecuona’s best FP2 time was more than a second slower than his FP1 time, with Lecuona explaining this after the session; and how Rinaldi’s victory in 2021 is helping Lecuona this year.
He said: “In FP2, I worked for the race. I used just one set of tyres, the SC0, so the hard one just because Rinaldi won here last year by three seconds using it. We want to try. I feel good, I feel strong. We will see. Alvaro went very fast, I checked his pace and it was amazing. I’m very close to Jonny. We will see tomorrow, with the weather conditions, anything can happen. In Superpole, the realistic goal is to stay in the first two rows for the first time. I think I have the speed. In the race, I feel confident and strong and my pace is similar to Jonny. I know Kawasaki struggle here a lot. Maybe we have the chance to fight for the podium.”
Discussing Honda’s pace on Friday in Spain, Team HRC Team Manager Leon Camier said during FP2: “To be honest, it’s not quite the true story. We used the soft tyre to understand how it would work in the Superpole Race on Sunday. It wasn’t quite a true telling of where we are. To be honest, this is one of the better tracks for us. Even on the race tyre, we were, I think, P4 at the time and on Iker’s second run. We’re quite happy about this. Also, Xavi now has gone out on a potential race tyre and is P3, so I think we’re in a better position at this circuit than before. We just need to try and understand at the end of the race how the conditions will be.”
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