The 2022 grid features seven rookies all looking to impress, with several different paths into WorldSBK
Seven rookies lined up on the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship when the season kicked off at MotorLand Aragon, with varying levels of success between them. From an early podium to yet to score points in WorldSBK, mixed with late call-ups and injury returns, the rookie class of 2022 all have different stories to discuss from the first two rounds of the season.
TWO ROUNDS FOR A FIRST PODIUM: Lecuona vindicates Team HRC’s 2022 approach
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) moved to WorldSBK as a factory Honda rider for the 2022 season after a stint in MotoGP™, and showed his pace from the off. Securing three top-ten finishes at the season-opening Aragon Round was a strong start for the Spaniard. At the Dutch Round, just two weeks later, Lecuona went a step further. A fifth place in both Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race at the TT Circuit Assen was followed up with his first WorldSBK podium as he finished in third place.
CLOSE TO HIS TEAMMATE: Vierge adapts from Moto2™ to WorldSBK
Team HRC went for an all-rookie line-up for 2022 with Lecuona and Xavi Vierge coming into the team. Vierge started off with three top-ten finishes at Aragon, just like his teammate, but Assen was a more challenging round for the Spaniard. He could only manage 11th in Race 1 and 12th in the Superpole Race before he battled to his first top ten finish of the weekend with ninth in Race 2. It has been a solid start for the former Moto2™ rider, but he will be hoping for a breakthrough similar to his teammate as soon as possible. Viegre’s season was disrupted by a crash in the Catalunya test where he broke some ribs, with the Spaniard referencing this throughout both the Aragon and Dutch Rounds.
INSTANT ADAPTATION: Oettl in a top ten fight
Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) is the highest-placed Independent rookie in the Championship standings in 13th place, with 15 points from his first six WorldSBK races. The German rider claimed seventh place in Race 1 at Assen for his best result to date, but the 11-time WorldSSP podium finisher has been in the fight for a top ten finish throughout his short career to date.
LATE CALL UP NO BARRIER: Tamburini straight into the points…
Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) wasn’t even expecting to be on the WorldSBK grid in 2022, but a late call-up from the Yamaha Motoxracing team, making their debut in 2022, meant the Italian was thrown in at the deep end. His first appearance on the bike was at the Supported Test at MotorLand Aragon, but his late call-up was no barrier as he fought for top ten finishes in his rookie season.
NO HANGING AROUND: Bernardi bounces back from injury in style
Luca Bernardi’s (BARNI Spark Racing Team) 2021 campaign was ended prematurely by injury at Magny-Cours, but he had still done enough to earn himself a WorldSBK seat with Barni Ducati. His first time on the bike, and any bike since his back injury, came at the Catalunya test. Despite this, the Sammarinese rider was straight into the points in Race 1 at Aragon with 12 points and added more to his tally in Race 2 at Assen. He’s also currently leading the Hyundai N-Spired Award standings for making up the most places in Race 1 and Race 2.
A CHALLENGING START: Syahrin looking for points
Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin (MIE Racing Honda Team) is one of two full-time rookies not to score points so far in 2022 following his switch from Moto2™ to WorldSBK. He has been able to fight for the points-paying positions but narrowly missed out on points at Assen in Race 2 when he finished in 17th place. He will be hoping that his first points in WorldSBK come sooner rather than later.
WorldSSP300 GRADUATE SCORELESS: Konig aiming to adapt to WorldSBK
Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) made his WorldSBK debut at the end of the 2021 season and graduated full-time for the 2022 season. Like Syahrin, Konig is yet to score a point but a best finish of 18th in the most recent race, Race 2 at Assen, shows the Czech rider is getting closer to the points-paying positions. With WorldSBK so competitive in 2022, Konig will be looking to claim his first points as soon as possible as he continues his adjustment to WorldSBK, having made the step up straight from WorldSSP300.
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