The first Superbike World Championship round draws to a close at the Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia.
The first Superbike World Championship round draws to a close at the Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia. A very promising season-opener for Team HRC, with Iker Lecuona in a six-way battle for fourth in the afternoon’s second race. Closing P6, he matches his result from yesterday and demonstrates impressive pace in dry conditions and against very competitive riders. Eleventh place for Xavi Vierge in Race 2 following on from a strong P7 on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the short Superpole race ran to schedule at 1pm local time (CET +10). According to their qualifying results yesterday, Lecuona started from eleventh on the grid and Vierge seventeenth. The ten-lap sprint allows little room for error, and the two Spaniards worked hard to make up positions in the limited time available. By the end of lap one, Vierge was lying tenth and Lecuona fourteenth. Iker quickly made up several positions and passed his team-mate on lap 3 to move tenth. Midway through this short sprint and Iker had gained further ground, running eighth, in front of Xavi, eleventh. While Lecuona held his position to the line, Vierge dropped one position to finish twelfth.
The second and final Superbike race played out in dry conditions later in the afternoon. Thanks to his Superpole race result, Lecuona improved his grid position and was able to start from eighth. The Spaniard made a strong start and was soon up into seventh. He then battled with Bassani and a tightly packed group of other riders, fighting for a fourth place. Pushing hard over the final laps, Iker was able to reach and pass Rea to move into sixth two laps from the end. Defending this position and repeating his race 1 result, Lecuona was the sixth rider to cross the line.
From seventeenth, Vierge made up a few positions off the line to place fourteenth one lap into the race. Soon getting into a rhythm, Xavi was able to lap consistently but had difficulty closing in on the riders immediately ahead of him. Thirteenth at the mid-race point, Vierge began to find better pace in the latter stages and moved up to tenth. The Spaniard was able to hold this position to the line but was unfortunately demoted one position after the finish for having passed a rider under yellow flag conditions.
As round one draws to a close, Lecuona places seventh in the championship standings with 22 points scored this weekend, Vierge tenth with a total of 14 points. Team HRC will now travel straight to Indonesia and the Mandalika International Circuit, where round two is taking place on 3-5 March.