Vierge and Lecuona show fighting spirit to place 8th and 11th in a shortened race 1 at Portimão
As round nine of the Superbike World Championship continues at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, Team HRC riders Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona have now completed the first of the weekend’s three races.
As round nine of the Superbike World Championship continues at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, Team HRC riders Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona have now completed the first of the weekend’s three races. Having wrestled all race long with a combination of unexpected difficulties, their race results – eighth and eleventh – speak volume about the young rookies’ fighting spirit and commitment.
After making some final adjustments during the third and final practice session, a session in which the entire field was able to set quicker times than yesterday, Team HRC headed out on track for Superpole. With just fifteen minutes in which to make an impression, Lecuona pushed hard to set 1’40.342 in the opening minutes. This remained his fastest time, enough for him to place tenth in a particularly tight battle that saw the top thirteen riders all within one second, meaning a fourth row start on the race 1 grid. Team-mate Vierge finished just three tenths behind (1’40.624) in thirteenth place, for a fifth-row start.
An incident during the SSP300 race meant that the first of the weekend’s two Superbike races got underway more than an hour later than scheduled, at 15.15 local time (CET-1). The delay meant that it was also necessary to shorten the race, from an originally planned 20 laps to just 14 laps. Lecuona lost a little ground off the line to find himself thirteenth through the first corners, while Vierge made a very strong start from the fifth row of the grid, moving up into tenth place through the first turns. Iker was soon up behind his team-mate, the Team HRC duo lapping with similar times to each other. Seven laps in and Vierge gained a position while Lecuona slipped one place back. Xavi was able to defend his position all the way to the line to finish eighth and earn a handful of precious championship points. In the final laps it became increasingly difficult for Iker to maintain strong pace, but he kept battling hard against the riders in his group until the very last corner, ultimately crossing the line eleventh.