The Team HRC rider started from fourth in Race 2 at Estoril, but his front mudguard broke on the warm-up lap and complicated matters for the rookie…
With the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship visiting the Circuito Estoril for the Estoril Round, Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) was looking forward to Race 2 on Sunday after claiming sixth place in Race 1 and fourth in the Tissot Superpole Race. Fourth was his best grid position of the year, but things went awry before he lined up on the grid to start the race when the front mudguard flew off his CBR1000 RR-R machine on the Warm Up Lap, starting a cascade of problems for the Valencian rider.
It was spotted that the mudguard had come off his machine on the Warm Up Lap and it almost got trickier when, as he was examining the bike, he took to the grass on the run down to Turn 7. The 22-year-old was able to continue on his way despite this and start race 2 from fourth on the grid; although he had to make a lot of changes to the way he was riding following the mudguard dislodging itself from the bike.
Explaining what happened on the Warm Up Lap, Lecuona said to the media after Race 2: “I don’t know! I braked and I heard an explosion on the Warm Up lap and I can’t do anything! I arrived to Turn 1, heard something on the bike and then something from the bike went really fast and passed me on the right side! I thought, ‘no way, it’s not possible to me now in P4!’.”
In the race, Lecuona had to quickly adjust to the new circumstances since the problems with the brake persisted throughout the 21 laps of the race. Despite this, Lecuona was able to finish Race 2 in sixth place and almost overtook Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) on the final lap as he battled for a top-five finish.
Discussing the race and having to adapt, he said: “I wanted to go to pitlane but then I tried the brake three or four times. I had brakes so I went to the grid. I checked, everything was fine and during the race it was a bit difficult. A lot of aggression at the front. It was difficult to manage, I needed to adjust a lot my style and a little bit of everything during the race. The reality was that when I started the race, it was difficult to stop the bike and there were some vibrations and to brake with angle. The bike moved a lot on the front, so it was full vibrations, but it was very difficult honestly. I went wide at Turn 1 and lost the top guys. I am happy because I could readapt everything in the race but frustrated because I know it was a good chance to stay in front.”
What happened so that the breakage of the mudguard disrupted Lecuona’s normal style on the bike in this way? Consulting a specialist, the technical explanation points to a chain of problems in line with Lecuona’s description. The loss of the mudguard affected more sensitive elements of the bike by channeling air into the radiator and around the fork legs. A large amount of dirty air around the fork could affect the operation of the brake calipers, which would not cool as efficiently; the temperature of the brake fluid world rise and that would make the brake feel different.
After riding around the problems caused by the mudguard coming off the bike at Estoril to claim another top-six finish, his seventh in the nine races so far in 2022, Lecuona was already looking ahead to the upcoming Emilia Romagna Round at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”. Previewing this, he said: “Misano is a circuit that I know, so we will go with a little more advantage than here, but I don't want to set my expectations. It is a circuit that I like, but we arrived as rookies with a new bike and everything is new. Let's see how the bike works, let's see how I feel, and little by little we'll make progress”.
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