Lecuona and Vierge confident of 2023 potential: "We’ll start with a different mentality"

Monday, 12 December 2022 13:30 GMT

With the 2023 season just over three months away and a limited time for testing, Team HRC are ready to tackle the year head-on

The tough talk ahead of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is already underway, and Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) and his teammate Xavi Vierge are fired up to kickstart their second season with Honda in style. Speaking during a Q&A press conference, both riders stated their intent to get 2023 underway and spoke about a variety of topics, from new parts and the super concessions to the desire to win and new names joining the WorldSBK grid for 2023.

Aiming to get 2023 underway in bright positivity, Lecuona hailed that a new mental approach will be at the core of the team’s outlook: “For next year, we’ll start with a different mentality than this year. We know the bike had the pole position in Barcelona, fourth places in many tracks, and the podium, so we have the potential. We’ll start with the mentality that we can fight for podiums if everything works well. We’ll see how the tests go and then talk about next year and the performances.

“In the end, the target is to have a lot of potential to start the season at the top. We want to fight for a Championship and if we want to do that, we need to develop the bike quickly. Honda are doing everything to bring us new material. I hope that we can arrive with a lot of potential to fight for the top positions. Everyone wants to win; the riders, the team, the factory so we have to give our maximum every day.”

Echoing Lecuona’s words, Xavi Vierge commented on the aim to start 2023 well, despite the little time off between the seasons: “The expectation is to win as soon as possible, that is the expectation we have and we’re working in that direction. We have the super concessions, but we finished the 2022 season quite late, and we’ll start 2023 quite soon. So, we don’t have so much time, but we have to work really hard, be precise and work in the correct way because the objective is to start the season trying to fight for the podium as soon as possible.

“For sure, super concessions will help us; it’s the same bike but we can adjust the settings with the front wheel position which will give us an easier life. The problem is that we received that at the end of the year and in challenging conditions. Every time we went out on track, it changed, so it’s difficult to understand and take profit of the settings. When we went to Australia, the conditions were crazy, so it was difficult to see a clear step. However, we now have testing to take profit of that; we are doing a good job, this year we improved a lot and for next year, we’ll be fighting at the top.”

Vierge also spoke about the importance of the experience that he and teammate Lecuona will have, and that in itself is a major advantage and that Honda’s upgrades will further improve the package: “I think if we don’t change anything with the package we have already, with one year experience, our level will improve. However, even with that, Honda and Team HRC are working so much so that it can be even better. We have a bike that in the last part of the straight is very strong and a bike that, depending on the track, is really competitive. We need to figure out and use our experience to start all the weekends well, as this year some of the tracks were new, so we lost time on Fridays. The one year of experience will be a big advantage for us.”

Lecuona also gave his thoughts on Danilo Petrucci’s arrival, a teammate from his time at KTM in MotoGP™: “I’m very happy for Danilo honestly, as we struggled a lot when we were teammates. At the beginning of the year, we didn’t speak a lot because we were fighting for the position but when we knew the reality from KTM, we enjoyed the last five or six races a lot and he’s a great guy. He tried to help me, and I tried to help him. I think he’ll go very fast with the Ducati so I know I need to beat him, and I hope I can do it! He’s very tall and big and he can fight a lot with the bike, so I think he has a good package to fight with for the Championship. I’m excited to be on track with him!”

Sharing the same sentiment, Vierge was excited about more and more riders switching to WorldSBK: “Next year, many riders are coming to the WorldSBK Championship and year by year, the level is growing. From the outside, you can see that there’s a lot of expectation, lots of good battles and a very high level. Over time, more and more people are getting interested.”

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