The ninth round of the 2023 Superbike World Championship has now concluded for Team HRC at the Nevers Magny-Cours circuit in France, with rider Xavi Vierge placing ninth in today’s races and Iker Lecuona eleventh in Race 2.
After a constructive warm-up, the team was ready for the morning’s ten-lap Superpole race. Lining up on the grid in the positions they earned during yesterday’s qualifying, Lecuona got away from fourteenth and Vierge from sixteenth. Xavi made a lightning start, passing a number of riders to move straight into ninth place. The Spaniard’s lap times improved as the race went on, with the rider able to hold ninth all the way to the line and earn a spot three rows further forward on the Race 2 grid.
Iker was unable to gain ground off the line but did his best to maintain contact with the riders immediately ahead. Although the sprint format of the race means that the gaps between riders are quick to open up and very tough to close, Lecuona worked to gradually increase his pace. Thirteenth by mid-race, Iker pushed to pass a rider in the final stages and cross the line twelfth as a result.
The second 21-lap Superbike race ran in particularly hot conditions (air temp. 35°C, track temp. 51°C) and according to schedule, with the lights going out at 3.15pm local time (CEST). Thanks to his result in the morning’s sprint, Vierge lined up in ninth spot on the grid, Lecuona from fifteenth. While Xavi placed eleventh through the opening stages of the race, his team-mate Iker was lying seventeenth. Lecuona suffered a crash on lap four, but the race was simultaneously red-flagged following an incident for two other riders. Quick to react, Iker remounted his bike and pitted, while his team was immediately ready to take care of his bike. Working at lightning speed, the crew was able to get their rider back on his bike and on track for the quick restart procedure in a matter of minutes.
The race was restarted just a short time later and shortened to seventeen laps. Vierge made a strong start and was in seventh through the first corners, with Lecuona lying fifteenth. Demonstrating better pace than the riders immediately ahead of him, Iker progressed to twelfth place by lap seven, while Xavi remained in a group of riders battling for seventh place for the entirety of the race. He finally had to settled for ninth through the very last corner, but it was in any case a positive result, for two top ten finishes in the day’s races. Iker also achieved a solid eleventh place finish after a challenging start to the weekend.
With nine championship rounds now complete, Vierge currently lies tenth in the general standings with 117 points, Lecuona thirteenth with a tally of 94. Next up for Team HRC is round ten of the Superbike World Championship, set to take place over the weekend of 22-24 September at Motorland Aragón in Spain.