Race pace the target for Team HRC at Portimão

2022-10-12 01:25
The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal is the stage for the last European round of the 2022 Superbike World Championship and Team HRC is keen to exploit the fact it is competing at a track that rookie riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge already know.

Aware that one of the most important setup aspects relates to race-distance consistency and that this track is pretty hard on tyre life, the team spent both sessions working to find steady race pace, rather than outright pace.

The opening practice session ran smoothly this morning in warm, sunny conditions. With previous data to refer to, and with the experience gathered during recent rounds, both sides of the garage were able to make solid progress already during this first phase, with both Xavi and Iker getting into a good rhythm and making the most of the almost ideal conditions. Lapping with similar lap times to each other, Vierge set a best of 1’41.972 to position ninth, with Lecuona finishing right behind him, tenth with a 1’42.099.

The work continued mid-afternoon during FP2. Lecuona immediately shaved a good half second off his previous time and didn’t stop there, making further gains throughout the 45-minute session and demonstrating a certain consistency around the Portuguese track. His best was a 1’41.453, a time that saw him round out day one in sixth place overall. Team-mate Vierge also made a step towards the end of this second session, a 1’41.858 moving him up into twelfth position in the day’s combined standings.

Iker Lecuona 7

“It was a positive Friday for us and I felt strong and confident on my bike. At the same time, when I made a few laps with Alvaro and a final one close to Johnny towards the end of FP1, I could feel that something is still missing. Generally speaking, we’ve found consistent pace, and this is good - we put the focus on the tyre life because we generally struggle at the end of races once the grip drops significantly. So we tried to work to improve this area of the bike and yes, we’ve found something, nothing huge but definitely something that allows us to be more consistent. Looking at the big picture, I feel both good and a bit frustrated because, compared to the top three guys, I’m still losing a little everywhere, which means that we need to keep up the good work and try to close this gap. Looking at what we achieved during the last test and also here today in terms of setup, I feel happy and am looking forward to tomorrow. Our target for qualifying is a place on the first two rows and then, for the race, to try and be consistent throughout and especially in the final stages, and of course to score the best possible result.”

Iker Lecuona

Xavi Vierge 97

“It’s been a good first day for us considering that we’ve worked a lot on race pace, finding quite good feeling over the two sessions. In the final part of FP1 we tried a new tyre but to be honest we expected more. In the end, the feeling wasn’t perfect with this solution, but it was good to try it today because that helped us to understand the direction to take tomorrow. The team has done a very good job and so we can say so far, so good.”

Xavi Vierge

Free Practices Combined Results after FP2
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 Razgatlioglu Toprak 1 TUR PATA YAMAHA with BRIXX WorldSBK 1'40.720
2 Rinaldi Michael Ruben 21 ITA ARUBA Racing - Ducati 1'40.965 0.245
3 Gerloff Garrett 31 USA GRT Yamaha WorldSBK 1'41.082 0.362
4 Rea Jonathan 65 GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK 1'41.196 0.476
5 Bautista Alvaro 19 SPA ARUBA Racing - Ducati 1'41.223 0.503
6 Lecuona Iker 7 SPA Team HRC 1'41.453 0.733

Source: HRC

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