Team HRC is at the Autodrom Most this weekend for the eighth round of the 2023 Superbike World Championship, where riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge have crossed the line fifth and seventeenth respectively in an action-packed first Superbike race
Team HRC is at the Autodrom Most this weekend for the eighth round of the 2023 Superbike World Championship, where riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge have crossed the line fifth and seventeenth respectively in an action-packed first Superbike race characterised by ever changing track conditions and consequent pitstops.
The day got underway with the last of the three free practice sessions, in which Lecuona was able to take a significant step with respect to yesterday’s sessions while Vierge and his team made some setup adjustments ahead of the all-important Superpole qualifying session. During that brief but all-important phase, both Vierge and Lecuona pushed hard to secure the best possible starting position for the afternoon’s first race. Xavi soon set a 1’32.021 but it was in the final minutes that both he and team-mate Iker recorded their fastest times with the qualifying tyre. A 1’31.813 for Vierge moved him up into ninth place, followed by Lecuona, eleventh with a 1’31.931. This meant that the Team HRC pair earned a third and fourth row start for the afternoon’s 22-lap race.
At 2pm local time, the lights went out on the first of the Superbike races, which began in the rain and on a wet track. The conditions made for an unpredictable race, with riders opting for different combinations of wet and intermediate tyre solutions. Mounting rain tyres front and rear, Vierge made a lightning start from ninth and was straight up into fourth place through the first corners. Lecuona, who opted for intermediates, made quite a decent start but a rather reckless manoeuvre from another rider forced him to brake hard so as not to run off track. This caused Iker to slide down almost to the back of the grid, twentieth by the end of lap one. With conditions changing rapidly after the rain stopped already in the early stages, Xavi wisely elected to quickly pit to switch over to slick tyres. With other riders also returning to the garage for the same reason and lapping with stronger pace than the riders up ahead, Iker meanwhile climbed to seventh place by lap six. Gaining another position through the central stages, Lecuona held sixth for a good part of the second half, closing in on Locatelli lap by lap before passing him two laps from the end. With not enough time remaining to try and pass Redding on the last lap, Lecuona crossed the line a strong fifth, his best result of the season to date.
Having changed his tyres, Vierge returned to the track in twenty-second position but was soon setting some of the fastest lap times of any rider on track. With a lot of ground to make up, the Spaniard was simply too far from the rest of the pack to make any real inroads, despite his impressive pace. Gaining five positions throughout the remainder of the race, the Team HRC rider crossed the line seventeenth.
Team HRC will return to the track tomorrow for the 10-lap Superpole race followed, in the afternoon, by the second 22-lap Superbike race.