Free Practice
WorldSBK 2024
Round 1

Mixed fortunes for Team HRC as the 2024 season officially kicks off in Australia

au Phillip Island

Team HRC have officially started their 2024 WorldSBK championship campaign, taking part in the first two practice sessions making up round one of the series at the Phillip Island Circuit in Australia.

Mixed fortunes for Team HRC as the 2024 season officially kicks off in Australia

Unfortunately, Iker Lecuona, who sustained a left shoulder injury during Tuesday’s test session (an acromioclavicular joint injury), struggled with significant pain when attempting to ride in today’s sessions. Regrettably, he will not be able to participate in the weekend races. On the other side of the garage, Xavi Vierge steadily improved on his lap times throughout the day, closing in fourteenth place, only a little over seven tenths from the top.

The morning’s first practice was characterised by rain, with the entire field of SBK riders electing to remain in the garage and await more favourable conditions. Things improved later on in the 45-minute session, with most riders taking to the track for the final ten minutes, Vierge and Lecuona included. With only time to complete about five laps each, the two Spaniards simply used the time to assess the conditions and the bike set-up and, in Iker’s case, his physical condition. Vierge placed sixteenth at the session’s end, with a 1’31.004, and Lecuona twentieth (1’31.682).

Iker returned to the track alongside team-mate Xavi for the afternoon’s second practice, which got underway on a damp track. Choosing to ride only in the latter half of the session, Vierge made a series of fast laps to set a best of 1’29.815 and finish fourteenth. Battling through the pain, Lecuona completed only ten laps, clocking a fastest time of 1’31.315 to place twentieth. Acting on the advice of his team and doctors, Iker will not continue riding this weekend, instead focusing on rest and recovery ahead of Round 2 in Catalunya.

Xavi will be back on track tomorrow for the Superpole and the first of two 20-lap SBK races. Based on information collated during the tests, it has been decided that the weekend’s long races will take place under flag-to-flag rules, with riders obliged to pit and change their tyres mid-race.

Xavi Vierge
Xavi Vierge 97
Team HRC
“We have finally started the season, despite not having the best luck with the weather and track time, especially this morning. We had a productive day of testing on Tuesday though, and gathered a lot of data that allowed us to make a clear plan for the race weekend. This afternoon, we made a change to the bike setup in an attempt to improve the turning, and I'm pleased to say that we achieved that, as well as finding slightly better drive out of the corners. Overall, the feeling with the bike has improved, which is a sign we've made a little step. We're not too far off in terms of fast lap times, around seven tenths, and perhaps in a slightly better position with regard to race pace. So, it's been a positive start to the weekend, and we'll have to see tomorrow what the weather brings and how we will deal with the altered race format.”

Iker Lecuona
Iker Lecuona 7
Team HRC
“I tried to ride this morning, but the wet track conditions meant I was only able to complete four laps, and was already experiencing pain in my left shoulder. I was determined to try again in the afternoon anyway, because I was not ready to give up on the race. But I was still in considerable pain during the second session, which forced me to lap at a very slow pace. The gap in seconds between me and the top riders was too big as a result, also because I was riding cautiously, constantly mindful that even a minor crash could exacerbate the problem with my shoulder. This meant I struggled to maintain my focus, as I was acutely aware of my physical limitations and reduced performance. When I tried to push harder with a new set of tyres, even just a little with the braking or changing of direction, I found myself unable to do so because of intense pain in my shoulder. After running wide through turn 4, I realized it would be unsafe to continue riding for the remainder of the weekend. I’m sorry for my team and everyone involved, but it’s definitely wiser for me to stop and return fully fit for the next round in Barcelona.”

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