Vierge a hard fought seventh in race 1 at Mandalika, Lecuona feels like himself again

2023-03-08 09:21
Team HRC scored solid results in the first race of the Indonesian WorldSBK weekend at the Mandalika International Street Circuit today, with rider Xavi Vierge battling strong rivals to finish seventh, while Iker Lecuona battled back from a difficult start to the weekend to close twelfth.

After the final free practice in which both riders continued to prepare for the races, the team benefitted from dry conditions for the crucial Superpole qualifying phase. Vierge and Lecuona first set a 1’33.177 and a 1’33.943 respectively on race rubber before returning to the pits to put in a qualifier. Xavi was able to improve marginally on his fresh tyre, setting a 1’33.094 which put him thirteenth at the session’s end. Iker’s time on this new tyre was one second quicker than his previous reference, and would have granted him eleventh position, but it was unfortunately deleted, meaning that he actually finished sixteenth thanks to his initial lap time.

The first of the weekend’s three races got underway at 1.30pm local time (CET+7) and ran over a distance of 21 laps. Vierge made a very strong start and was up into seventh by the end of lap one. Settling into a consistent rhythm, Xavi lay eighth for a good part of the race before battling with Rea for seventh in the second half. Once past the Kawasaki rider, he was also able to move in on Lowes, passing him too on lap seventeen. Vierge ultimately lost one position in the final laps but did well to cross the line a valuable seventh.

Lecuona maintained his starting position through the early stages but was able to gain confidence and speed, lap by lap, once the race got going. Up into twelfth by the mid-race point, the Team HRC rider demonstrated a very strong pace throughout the race, running with lap times very similar to those of his team-mate and the group of riders battling for the top five, but was ultimately conditioned by his grid position. Twelfth across the line, and with renewed confidence, Lecuona will be looking for more in tomorrow’s races.

Xavi Vierge 97

“Even more than usual I want to say a big thanks to the team because after a difficult Australian round they came up with the perfect plan to bring my confidence back. We knew that our race pace was quite strong here but unfortunately, I again struggled to exploit the qualifying session. I made some mistakes that caused me to lose two or three tenths which set me back on the grid considering how close everyone’s times were. And it makes a big difference whether you start on the first three rows or further back. Having said that, my start was very good and I soon made up a few positions. I was able to stick with the front guys, part of a group of very strong and competitive riders. I did my best to manage the tyres until the end but the battle was tough and I lost a little ground through the middle of the race and one position on the very last lap but, all in all, it was a good race and now we will try to make some small refinements to the setup in order to try and be just a little faster tomorrow. But again, thank you so much to the team for the support they give me each time.”

Xavi Vierge

Iker Lecuona 7

“I’m so happy after the first race here in Mandalika because I now feel like "Iker" again on the bike. I was able to ride again, maybe not like in Australia because I’m still missing something, but I began to regain my confidence lap by lap, and also during the race. We had a bit of back luck in qualifying because I could have finished around P10 but I didn’t see a yellow flag and so had my lap time cancelled. We placed P16 in the end, which made a big difference, also because my start was not good and I found myself in almost last position through turn one. I soon recovered though and felt very good throughout the race. My pace was unbelievable and I set my fastest lap time on lap 15, which meant I could lap in the mid ’33s right to the end. I made up a lot of ground with respect to the group up ahead, made up of Xavi and some other strong guys. So I don’t think P12 reflects our true level here, but we must focus on the positives which make us very happy. Our pace was great and I was able to ride in a relaxed way and enjoy the racing.”

Iker Lecuona

Results Tissot Superpole
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 Razgatlioglu Toprak 54 TUR PATA YAMAHA with BRIXX WorldSBK 1'32.037
2 Locatelli Andrea 55 ITA PATA YAMAHA with BRIXX WorldSBK 1'32.106 0.069
3 Bautista Alvaro 1 SPA ARUBA Racing - Ducati 1'32.202 0.165
4 Rinaldi Michael Ruben 21 ITA ARUBA Racing - Ducati 1'32.542 0.505
5 Rea Jonathan 65 GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK 1'32.550 0.513
6 Baz Loris 76 FRA Bonovo Action BMW 1'32.638 0.601

Source: HRC

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