The first of the weekend’s races proved to be a race of two halves, with riders completing the first laps on a full wet track before switching over to slick tyres as the asphalt quickly dried.
Team HRC is currently competing in this season’s final Superbike World Championship round at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia. The first of the weekend’s races proved to be a race of two halves, with riders completing the first laps on a full wet track before switching over to slick tyres as the asphalt quickly dried.
It would have probably been hard to find more challenging conditions for a debut race in the category, but Tetsuta Nagashima once again impressed, finishing inside the top ten despite two crashes during the morning and a flag-to-flag race 1 that was also a new experience for the squad. After a tough start to the weekend, Xavi Vierge found sufficient speed and rhythm to achieve another solid result, eighth in race 1, the Spaniard acknowledging that he has room to improve in tomorrow’s final races of the 2022 season.
Prior to the race action, riders Vierge and Nagashima took part in the morning’s third and final practice, making the most of this last opportunity to prepare for the subsequent Superpole. The session ran on a damp track, with Nagashima suffering a crash through turn 1 in the final minutes. The Japanese rider was nevertheless passed fit to continue by doctors after a brief visit to the medical centre.
The track had dried fully in time for the Superpole qualifying session. Both riders did their best to secure a good grid position for race 1, with Vierge setting a 1’31.307 to place ninth and Nagashima recording a best of 1’31.339 to finish right behind his team-mate in tenth. Another innocuous crash in the final seconds prevented the Japanese rider from doing more, the results meaning that Team HRC lined up on the third and fourth row of the grid for the afternoon’s first race.
The first full-length Superbike race ran according to schedule at 4pm local time on a wet track, after heavy rainfall prior to the session. Getting away well, Vierge was lying ninth through the first turns, with team-mate Nagashima down in sixteenth. The Spaniard gained two places on the very next lap to move into seventh, a position he then maintained until lap ten. The Japanese rider gained three positions in the early stages and gradually began to find his rhythm, building confidence around the wet track. With a track that was drying out fast, the entire field returned to the pits mid-race to switch over to slick tyres. Vierge and Nagashima did so on lap eleven, returning to the track in tenth and fifteenth place respectively. Gaining ground thanks to a consistent pace, the Spaniard ultimately crossed the line eighth and the Japanese tenth.
Team HRC will return to the track tomorrow for the final races of this 2022 Superbike World Championship.