Double top ten for Vierge on Sunday at Portimão

Team HRC has concluded the ninth WorldSBK round at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve with a double top ten finish for rider Xavi Vierge in the day’s two races. Iker Lecuona had a more challenging Sunday, as he crossed the line twelfth in the sprint race before crashing out while fighting for seventh place in race 2.

In the morning’s ten-lap Tissot Superpole race, Lecuona lost a lot of ground off the line, slipping back to nineteenth, while Vierge was in eleventh place. Iker immediately set to work, pushing hard to make up positions and climbing to fifteenth by lap three. By lap six he was up into thirteenth, just behind Vierge, twelfth, with the two riders then exchanging places on the very next lap. Battling it out with rival Oettl in the final stages, the Team HRC riders crossed the line tenth (Vierge) and twelve (Lecuona), with Xavi missing out on the chance to gain a third row start by just 0.069 of a second to Loris Baz.

The second 20-lap Superbike race ran in sunny conditions and according to schedule. Eleventh on the grid, Lecuona was in tenth place by the end of lap one, immediately followed by team-mate Vierge. Both factory riders made up a position on lap four and by the mid-race point, Iker was lying eighth just ahead of Xavi, ninth. Unfortunately, on lap thirteen Lecuona crashed as he headed into the penultimate corner. Unhurt, Iker jumped back on his bike and re-joined the race despite having dropped back to last place. The Spaniard valiantly continued and finished race 2 in twenty-second place. Vierge held eighth place from the point at which his team-mate crashed all the way to the line, securing more important championship points.

At the end of this ninth championship round, Lecuona lies eighth in the standings with 163 points and Vierge places tenth with 115. The next round of the WorldSBK championship will take place at the San Juan Villicum circuit in Argentina on 21-23 October.

Xavi Vierge
“This weekend was positive for us in many aspects, even though the results don’t totally reflect our potential. We were able to significantly improve our feeling compared to yesterday and it’s just a shame we missed out on P9 in the sprint race by just a fraction of a second, because starting from the third row, rather than the fifth, would have made things easier in race 2. Anyway, it was as it was. I didn’t make a bad start anyway and was able to maintain good, consistent pace and finally achieve a solid result. I really think we did a good job overall - we collected a lot of information and are going in the right direction for the future. In the short term we need to improve in qualifying so to have more cards to play in the race. As always, thanks to the squad for their hard work and total commitment.”

Iker Lecuona
“It was a hard weekend for us, but I’m happy and appreciate the way HRC and the team reacted and found a solution to some issues we were facing. Yesterday we struggled a lot in the hot conditions, and so we changed the bike’s setup ahead of today’s races. I felt really good in warm-up; the pace was there, and I could make some strong laps. Then I made a terrible start to the sprint race and found myself somewhere around twentieth position at the end of the first lap and I lost every chance in that moment. We later understood what happened but, in that moment, all I could do was try and recover as much as possible. I finished twelfth in the end, non a great result but acceptable all things considered. From the Team and Japan they did a great job providing a different mapping for the launch control, as that worked amazingly well in race 2. I was able to make up four places on the first lap and felt good with the bike, the electronics and everything throughout the race. I was chasing Redding and waiting for the best moment to attack him on the final lap and then, I’m not sure how, but I had a small crash at turn 14. I got back on the bike and was way back with no chance to reach the points zone, but I finished the race out of respect for the team and to thank them for their hard work and for the fact they never stop giving their all and positively addressing every difficulty we encounter. Now we’ll focus on Argentina.”

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