‘The window we have now is bigger than before’ – Team HRC riders complete Barcelona test plan

Wednesday, 3 July 2024 08:45 GMT

Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge were both on track on Tuesday, completing vital testing in order to bring Honda back into the top positions on a regular basis

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has enjoyed four rounds out of 12 so far and with the fifth coming up at Donington Park, it’s vital to arrive on British soil and be competitive from the start. With this in mind and continuing on their uptick in form, Team HRC riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge took part in testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain, where positivity was found as progress continues to be made.

LECUONA UPBEAT WITH OPTIMISM: “I can be on the limit… the window we have is bigger than before”

Starting off by evaluating his testing in Barcelona, Iker Lecuona was positive: “Overall, it was positive but like always, when you’re alone on track, you can’t compare. We had bad luck on Monday as maybe we had the chance to ride with Kawasaki and Alex Lowes but the rain came and what we wanted to try was for the dry. So, on Tuesday, we were alone; the track was quite dirty after the storm on Monday and honestly, the afternoon was very, very hot. We confirmed that the way we took at the Cremona test and then the way we followed that at the Misano test and then the Misano round was correct. We didn’t have many big things to try but more about the base setting: fork settings, bike balance and electronics. We didn’t do many laps but the ones we did were positive. There was good data for Japan to analyse and take the next steps. We kept a good race pace with the track conditions and our fastest lap time was like a Superpole time but in a race run. Let’s see what happens at Donington Park.”

Speaking about which areas of the bike they focused on, the #7 side of the garage focused on all aspects: “We tried to improve all of the bike and not just one area; overall, we made steps and during the Misano race, we could show that we improved a little bit. Donington Park is completely different and I think that our base will still work there but until we arrive, we don’t know.”

It’s another strong testing performance from Honda and Lecuona, continuing the trend set at the first Cremona test back in May: “Cremona’s first test was important; we went after Misano and we confirmed the direction was right. We improved pace, one-lap speed and honestly, got a lot of confidence with the bike. Now, I’ve started to feel comfortable on the bike and save a lot of crashes but more than that, I can be on the limit more. The window we have right now is bigger than before. That has helped myself to take confidence. I’m really well physically; at Misano, I expected to struggle more but I finished quite well; at Cremona’s test, I did long runs and it was good, not 100% ready with the shoulder but good.”

MIXED FEELINGS FOR VIERGE: “I felt competitive… I was in the 1’42s which is much better than the race weekend”

Whilst also being somewhat upbeat, inconsistencies throughout the day left Xavi Vierge flummoxed: “We had a positive test and the team did a really good job and made a good decision to test one day later, even if we had some slower riders sharing the track with us. We need the dry track time to test items and find the way to follow. For this part, it was positive and I felt competitive; I improved my lap times with the race tyre quite a lot but still, at some points in the day, we got completely different feelings without touching the bike too much. This is something we need to understand but it's also easy to have confusion. In the position we are in now, we had some positives and negatives and the worst thing that can happen is that you don’t understand what is going on. Luckily, I have an incredible team and my job is finished but they have a lot of work to do, analysing the data and find answers to our questions.”

Whilst Lecuona worked on areas all over the bike, the main goal for Vierge was turning and carrying corner speed, which as he previously alluded to, had inconsistencies at different times of the day: “We worked on the same areas as always; more turning and carrying speed throughout the drive area. At some parts of the day, we improve a bit but then without changing many things, it disappears. This is what creates the confusion. I took a positive and that was that with the race tyre, I was in the 1’42s which is much better than in the race weekend. We need to understand how to be more consistent in our work. In a small window like during a race weekend, this can’t happen as the level of the Championship is growing all the time, one moment it’s easy to be inside the top ten and then the next, outside the top 15. This, we can’t accept anymore.”

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