Race 1
WorldSBK 2023
Round 6

Vierge eleventh in Race 1 at Donington, Lecuona DNF

gb Donington Park Circuit

The first of the WorldSBK races at Donington Park put Team HRC to the test, with Xavi Vierge crossing the line eleventh and team-mate Iker Lecuona crashing out in the final stages.

Vierge eleventh in Race 1 at Donington, Lecuona DNF

Lecuona and Vierge made the most of the dry conditions during the morning’s final brief free practice. The track was still a little damp in parts but gradually dried throughout the phase with lap times coming down in the final minutes, the Team HRC duo continuing their preparations ahead of the subsequent Superpole.

Lap times continued to tumble during the all-important Superpole qualifying session which fortunately ran in the dry, despite some ominous looking clouds. In what turned out to be a hard-fought session, Iker put in a 1’27.190 in the opening stages, a time that remained his best and saw him place thirteenth. Xavi’s best lap came mid-way through the session, a 1’27.579 putting him seventeenth on the grid for the afternoon’s Race 1.

Race 1 got underway at 2pm local time and ran over a distance of 23 laps in dry conditions. Lecuona got away fast and was up into tenth through the first turns. Vierge also made up a couple of positions and was lying fourteenth a few laps into the race. Getting into a rhythm through the initial stages, Xavi gradually moved up to within half a second of team-mate Iker towards the middle of the race, by which point both were lapping with similar lap times. Thirteenth and fourteenth heading into the final stages, Lecuona and Vierge held those positions until the penultimate lap, when Iker crashed out at turn 4, leaving Xavi to cross the line in eleventh place. Lecuona went to the circuit medical centre to be checked over but has fortunately sustained no injuries, although he was experiencing some pain in his left wrist.

Both riders and Team HRC are nevertheless ready to take the positives from today and harness what they have learned in tomorrow’s races.

Xavi Vierge
Xavi Vierge 97
Team HRC
Another race where we had to fight hard to recover after starting further back on the grid. The conditions surely didn’t help us as they were less than ideal in this morning’s FP3, which meant we basically went straight into qualifying. I struggled as always with the soft tyre and was not able to go fast, so had to start from seventeenth on the grid. This made for an uphill race. And it’s a real shame as my feeling on the bike during the race was good, better with the hard tyre than with the soft, and in fact I almost matched my Superpole flying lap time. So I’m happy with that, but losing so much ground off the line affected our race. We scored a few points and that’s another positive, but we need to find a solution to be able to exploit the soft tyre, that’s crucial. Having said that, a big thank you to everyone on the team because they work incredibly hard and support me so much.

Iker Lecuona
Iker Lecuona 7
Team HRC
At the moment I’m experiencing some pain in my left wrist but fortunately nothing is broken. It was not an easy race. In qualifying the feeling was not so bad to be honest, but I made a few mistakes on my second flying lap. Without that, I could have qualified a few positions further forward, so I was feeling confident going into the race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be though and my start was probably the best part of my race! For once I made a good start and felt good into the first corner, overtaking on the brakes. But despite feeling good and strong with the front, I was immediately struggling with the rear and had zero grip. When Remy overtook me, I tried to respond but I was pushing a lot on the front and then crashed at corner four, unable to save it. I’m sorry for the team but we need to keep working and find a way for tomorrow. I have the feeling I can do well but for some reason I cannot go fast so now we will check the data to try to understand and make a decision.

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