The two Spaniards have been closely matched throughout their two seasons together so far and they will be battling each other on track more after renewing their contracts
All five factory teams in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship have new confirmed their line-up for 2024. The last to do was Team HRC but the Honda factory squad have announced that Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge will renew with the team for the next two seasons. After a rollercoaster 2023 for the pair, they will be aiming to finish the year off on a high at their home Prometeon Spanish Round before building into 2024 and beyond to become regular podium contenders.
STAYING PUT: bringing their total to four seasons
Both Lecuona and Vierge were signed for Team HRC for the 2022 season, replacing Ducati-bound Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Leon Haslam. The #7 claimed a maiden pole position at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya that year, while his first podium came at the TT Circuit Assen; taking advantage of clashes ahead of him to secure his only rostrum to date in WorldSBK. For the Valencian, 2023 started off strongly in Australia with two top-six finishes, before a difficult Indonesian Round.
Assen this year was another tricky round, with two retirements, but he was back on form in Barcelona when he took fourth in the Tissot Superpole Race. He was a top ten contender at Misano before Donington Park left him down the order and it wouldn’t be until MotorLand Aragon that he returned to the top ten on a consistent basis. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old sits 12th in the Riders’ Championship and only four points behind his teammate in eighth. With their two-year deals announced, it will bring their total stint at Honda to four seasons.
LECUONA’S THOUGHTS: “I want to fight at the front and succeed!”
Declaring his intentions during his time at Honda, Lecuona said: “It’s good to have everything clear on the contract side because we must focus on the job ahead. I want to fight at the front and succeed, something HRC has always strived for in the racing field, but we must work hard to reach that level, so soon after the last round of the 2023 Championship we will turn our full attention to testing as we start to prepare for the new season, aiming to take a consistent step forward in terms of performance and results."
REMAINING IN RED: Vierge’s form keeps him at Honda
The #97 claimed Honda’s only podium of the year so far when he was third in Race 2 at Mandalika, while he has featured in the top six on a few more occasions this year. At the start of the season, Lecuona and Vierge’s form was reversed: Lecuona was ahead in Australia, but 26-year-old Vierge stormed clear in Indonesia. From there, the pair have been relatively evenly matched as shown by their gap in the Championship. When WorldSBK returned to Europe, Vierge took a best of ninth at Assen before following that up with sixth in Barcelona.
At Misano, he was in the top five but, like Lecuona, results tailed away as WorldSBK ventured to more ‘quirky’ tracks such as Donington, Imola and Most. In these three rounds, his best result was ninth in Race 2 in the Czech Republic. Magny-Cours saw an improvement as he fought for the top ten in all three races, taking two P9s, before Aragon and Portimao propelled Honda into the top ten consistently once again.
VIERGE SAYS: “Together we can accomplish our goal, which is try to fight for the Championship as soon as possible”
Like his teammate, Vierge outlined lofty ambitions as his future with Team HRC was announced. He said: “I’m happy to have renewed my contract with Team HRC for another two years. It’s every rider’s dream to be part of a HRC factory team and my feelings have only grown since my early days with the squad. It is a source of motivation to continue together, as I believe in the project, in myself, and in my team. Together we can accomplish our goal, which is to try to fight for the Championship as soon as possible. And so, we will continue to work as hard as we can in order to get there.”
HONDA’S VIEW: “We are pleased to announce that both will remain HRC factory riders for the next two years”
Giving the team’s view, Tetsuhiro Kuwata, Honda Racing Corporation – General Manager in the Race Operations Management Division, added: “In nearly two years of working together, we have come to appreciate Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge in every respect, and we are therefore happy and pleased to announce that both will remain HRC factory riders for the next two years. Xavi and Iker are two young, fast, and competitive riders, always ready to face every challenge with positivity, dedication and team spirit. These are values that we fully share because they are the ones that allow us to strive and progress in the competitive world of racing. Good work to both our riders and our technicians for both the 2023 season finale and the years to come.”
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