A mixed day with plenty of highs, Lecuona’s turning into a bit of a revelation this weekend…
The opening day of the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s Motul Dutch Round showed great signs of improvement for Iker Lecuona (Team HRC), with the Spanish rookie hitting the ground running right from FP1. Lecuona impressed many by starting his day in second place and despite track temperatures rising in FP2 and a Turn 3 crash that brought out the red flag, the relentless 22-year-old finished a respectable fifth on the combined times.
Whilst being just over four tenths behind FP1 leader Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK), Lecuona was over three tenths clear of the next fastest rider, Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). In his last stint during FP1, where is personal best lap time came as a 1’34.884, Lecuona sported the SCX tyre, continuing to get used to the new rubber and characteristics of each tyre compound. In the afternoon session, a crash scuppered his run but he was back out in the final 17 minutes to take to the track, not improving his lap time but finishing fifth overall.
Speaking about what was an opening day of two halves, Lecuona said: “Overall, I feel good! I didn’t expect this speed; I worked alone, improved lap by lap and I think the pace I have is very positive for the race. In FP2, I have a massive highside at Turn 3. I lost the front and saved it, but then lost the rear and had a highside. Thanks to the team who repaired the bike very fast, so I could go out again and work in FP2. I think we have a good pace for tomorrow.”
Speaking of whether he thinks that the bike will work better at Assen than at MotorLand Aragon, Lecuona commented: “Better than Aragon for sure, because I struggled a lot there. Also, in the test until the weekend, I had good results but I didn’t feel comfortable with the bike. Here, I can go alone and feel fast and comfortable with the bike. It’s true that the bike is a bit nervous, so I have more movement compared to Jonathan or Alvaro, as I compared some images from the TV. If we can solve these small problems, maybe it can be a better weekend.”
Finally, Lecuona commented on whether he’s fighting for the top five, he was confident: “I think it’s more realistic than at Aragon. I worked alone and I can go fast, and I think my pace is to fight for this position. We will see tomorrow as that’s the reality; we have the Superpole where everyone, including me, will push, so we see in which position I will start the race, as well as FP3, to see what work I can do for the race.”
Speaking during FP1, Team HRC team manager Leon Camier was also confident of good things, saying from both Lecuona and the projects start to the season overall: “After only a few laps, Iker’s instantly found a good pace and a good rhythm. Step-by-step, we’ll see how it goes over the weekend. Having two new, young riders, it’s a little bit difficult to know what to expect after the first few races but both did a very, very good job. Xavi’s still nursing an injury as he broke two ribs, so this circuit will be a lot more difficult for him, mainly due to the hard changes of direction. I think this circuit will be a lot more difficult for him to manage over the course of the race.”
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