The HRC General Manager laid the praise on the WorldSBK project, with victory to be expected in the not-too-distant future
The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has seen plenty of action and a whole host of stories already, with some of the closest racing we’ve ever seen. However, one of the stories so far this year has been the step made by Team HRC. The factory Honda outfit has already been on the podium in Race 2 at Assen and has been a regular inside the top five, despite having new riders in Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, of which the latter was far from fully fit in the opening two rounds.
Team HRC have not finished a race outside of the top ten and in the last six races, they’ve always been in the top six, with five of those races seeing them achieve a top five. In the Championship standings, Lecuona is the rider who is taking the charge to the top four, just eight points behind fourth-placed Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and 16 points ahead of the factory Ducati of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). For Vierge, injury plagued him in the opening two rounds, but he was still a constant force in the top ten but took a career-first top five in Race 1 at Estoril, beating teammate Lecuona in a last lap battle. Vierge is eighth in the Championship, just six points behind Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).
Talking highly of the results from round three, HRC General Manager Tetsuhiro Kuwata said: “At Estoril, we had very difficult conditions, but both riders adapted well to them and tried to take maximum performance from the weekend. Xavi had a crash, but we could all feel progress during this round. Iker also did a great job, even with a problem in Race 2, but honestly talking I’m very happy with the weekend, our target is a little bit far away, but we have to accept the position now and concentrate on more progress for the next round.”
Kuwata also hailed the pairing’s adaptation to WorldSBK as well as the positivity both bring to the team: “Since winter testing, we’ve had two new riders in Iker and Xavi, and we expected that they would need some time to adapt to new machines and also the Championship. However, so far, they are doing very well, and the results are better than my expectations. Also, their attitude is quite new, as they're a new generation, which is also making a very good atmosphere in the team. We are very happy and trying to cooperate as much as possible, as well as trying to reach our target.”
Kuwata concluded, emphasising his and HRC’s aim to see a step in the second half of the season and the continuous aim for victory: “Honestly speaking, they are doing better than expected; I expected them to struggle a bit with how to manage the weekend with the new scenarios. They are doing very well, but I also hope that they can do one more step in the near future. Each round, we are trying to improve but our target is to always win. We will try to achieve this goal as soon as possible but for sure we will need time. I want to achieve this goal this season. Our target is to always win soon, which means the next round, but we have to understand our positions. We need to a proper plan, but our target is in the second half of the season, we aim to be in the fight for the podium, then over the season, we aim for victory.”
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