Top seven for Vierge in race 2, a blameless Lecuona forced to retire
Team HRC scored a best of seventh in each of today’s WorldSBK races at the Most Circuit with riders Xavi Vierge in race 2 and Iker Lecuona in the superpole race.
Team HRC scored a best of seventh in each of today’s WorldSBK races at the Most Circuit with riders Xavi Vierge in race 2 and Iker Lecuona in the superpole race. A stroke of bad luck, in the form of a punctured rear tyre, unfortunately meant that Lecuona was forced to retire from race 2 in the final stages, putting an end to a positive trend that had seen him score points in every single race up to this point.
The short Superpole race got underway at 11 am, with Lecuona and Vierge starting from twelfth and thirteenth on the grid. Up into tenth and eleventh by the end of lap one, the Team HRC duo were keen to set a pace that would allow them to maximise the limited time available during this ten-lap sprint. Passing Baz on lap three, Lecuona moved into eighth place, after which he began to chase down Gerloff, catching and passing him on lap seven. Iker ultimately crossed the line seventh, just one tenth of a second from sixth. Team-mate Vierge picked up the pace in the second half of the race, getting past Baz on lap seven to conclude the sprint race in tenth place.
The second and final Superbike race ran at 2pm local time. Thanks to his Superpole race result, Lecuona moved up to seventh on the grid for this 22-lap race, with Vierge once again starting thirteenth. Lecuona held his starting position through the early stages, with Vierge immediately gaining ground to move into tenth place. Xavi soon made up another position and was lapping less than a second behind his team-mate, who dropped to eighth at the mid-race point, unable to match the strong pace he had shown in earlier sessions. The reason became clear on lap twenty, when his rear tyre gave up completely, forcing Lecuona to stop and preventing him from completing what had been a solid race up until that point. Iker had in fact finished in the points zone in every race held up until now, the only rider in the field to have done so.
Team-mate Vierge, who by working constructively with his crew was able to turn the weekend around and regain confidence and speed on the bike, moved up one place as a result and gained a further position on the last lap when another rider ahead of him suffered a technical issue, meaning that the Spaniard crossed the line seventh to score more precious championship points.
As the championship reaches the halfway point, Lecuona places sixth in the general standings with 127 points, Vierge tenth with 79. While the Superbike championship now heads into its summer break (the next round set to take place over the weekend of 9-11 September at Magny-Cours in France), Iker Lecuona will fly to Japan to compete in his first Suzuka 8 Hours race on August 7, riding the factory Honda Team HRC #33 alongside BSB rider and three-time Suzuka 8 Hours winner Takumi Takahashi, and HRC factory test rider Tetsuta Nagashima. Team-mate Xavi Vierge will also attend the event as the team’s reserve rider.