Earlier in the day, the short Superpole race ran to schedule at 1pm local time (CET +10). According to their qualifying results yesterday, Lecuona started from eleventh on the grid and Vierge seventeenth. The ten-lap sprint allows little room for error, and the two Spaniards worked hard to make up positions in the limited time available. By the end of lap one, Vierge was lying tenth and Lecuona fourteenth. Iker quickly made up several positions and passed his team-mate on lap 3 to move tenth. Midway through this short sprint and Iker had gained further ground, running eighth, in front of Xavi, eleventh. While Lecuona held his position to the line, Vierge dropped one position to finish twelfth.
The second and final Superbike race played out in dry conditions later in the afternoon. Thanks to his Superpole race result, Lecuona improved his grid position and was able to start from eighth. The Spaniard made a strong start and was soon up into seventh. He then battled with Bassani and a tightly packed group of other riders, fighting for a fourth place. Pushing hard over the final laps, Iker was able to reach and pass Rea to move into sixth two laps from the end. Defending this position and repeating his race 1 result, Lecuona was the sixth rider to cross the line.
From seventeenth, Vierge made up a few positions off the line to place fourteenth one lap into the race. Soon getting into a rhythm, Xavi was able to lap consistently but had difficulty closing in on the riders immediately ahead of him. Thirteenth at the mid-race point, Vierge began to find better pace in the latter stages and moved up to tenth. The Spaniard was able to hold this position to the line but was unfortunately demoted one position after the finish for having passed a rider under yellow flag conditions.
As round one draws to a close, Lecuona places seventh in the championship standings with 22 points scored this weekend, Vierge tenth with a total of 14 points. Team HRC will now travel straight to Indonesia and the Mandalika International Circuit, where round two is taking place on 3-5 March.
Iker Lecuona #7
“I’m very happy with today’s race and I want to first say thanks to the team because they did a great job working on the bike setup throughout the practices after the two-day test where we struggled quite a lot. We were able to check all the data and improve the bike to the point that we could battle for P4 for the entire race alongside many strong riders, and in dry conditions. I’m satisfied with the way I was able to fight and with the P6 finish. And what a battle it was. I almost crashed twice while fighting with Axel but it was a really good battle, all the way to the end, something that last year I was really struggling to do. A good start to the season then, also considering our result yesterday in wet conditions. Overall, we’ve very happy, not just with the race results but with the work we’ve been able to do. I hope there’s more to come.”
Xavi Vierge #97
“We’ve finally scored some points at the end of what has been a very tough weekend here in Australia. We’ve learned a lot and have identified a few areas on which to focus and try to improve ahead of the Mandalika round. As for today’s second race, we did our best from start to finish. It’s a pity about what happened with the penalty, as I was just in the processing of passing Van der Mark when the crash occurred ahead of me, so there was nothing I could do. I kept pushing and closed tenth, but it’s disappointing to then find you’re actually eleventh. It is what it is anyway, and we will continue to give it our all. A big thank you to the team for all their hard work here.”