Viva Vierge: "We gave it everything, finally we’ve got it!" – a maiden WorldSBK podium
It’s in the history books as Xavi Vierge storms to a maiden World Superbike podium in Indonesia
It was an epic Sunday for Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) as the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship rocked on the Indonesian island of Lombok for round two of the season. In what was a crazy final day of action which saw both races red-flagged, a topsy-turvy order resulted in thrilling battles right the way through the field. In Race 2, the headlines went the way of Xavi Vierge, with the Spaniard taking a long-awaited podium, the first of his World Superbike career, to cap off what has been one of the strongest weekends for the 25-year-old.
As the lights went out for the first time, Vierge got a good start and was once again in the lead battle – he started from sixth after a sublime outing in the Tissot Superpole Race earlier in the day. As the battle raged, Vierge soon found himself up inside the podium positions before a red flag was shown for a massive accident involving Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) on the exit of Turn 11.
After the restart, of which Vierge – by virtue of his strong performance in the original running – started from third on the grid, the #97 got pipped by a fast-starting Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) on the run down to the first turn, before settling into fourth place. He didn’t move from that position and rode a solid race pace, going unthreatened by those behind him, whilst challenging Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) in the middle part of the race. Then, when it was looking like Vierge would equal his best career position of fourth, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) made a crucial error at Turn 10 and ran off the circuit on the last lap, promoting Razgatlioglu and Vierge behind him. Holding on for the final lap half a lap, Vierge held his nerve and returned Honda to the podium for the first time in 2023.
Vierge was incredibly emotional and spoke about his resilience and belief in the Honda project: “You can’t believe how happy I am, we have worked so hard since last year, but we always missed something to fight for that position! The start of the season in Australia was so hard but team supported me and here in Indonesia, they gave me a bike that I could recover the feeling and speed! During the weekend, we’ve improved. Finally, we’ve got it! The team had an amazing plan, and I could finish in third position, which is a victory for everyone at the moment. We gave it everything until the last lap.”
Three seconds away from victory, he now completes a factory line-up of WorldSBK in which all factory riders have at least one WorldSBK podium. For Vierge on a personal level, it’s his first World Championship podium since Barcelona in the Moto2™ World Championship in 2021, when he clinched third. Vierge repeats the achievement of teammate Iker Lecuona from last year at Assen, meaning it is now four seasons of podiums for Honda – the aforementioned podium at Assen was also the last time two Spaniards stood on the rostrum, until today, with Bautista winning both.
Vierge is the 128th podium finisher in World Superbike and the 13th from Spain, giving Honda a 397th podium. He’s the 44th different podium finisher for Honda and the fifth from Spain. Finally, in the Championship standings, Vierge is seventh on 43 points, one behind Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and just eight behind Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in fourth.
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