Iker Lecuona ‘frustrated’ as flat tire ends impressive WorldSBK run | Superbikes of the world

The favorite to clinch Rookie of the Year, Lecuona has been nothing short of brilliant throughout the first six rounds of his WorldSBK career.

Having finished no less than a tenth place in any race before last weekend’s Czech round, the former MotoGP rider was a model of consistency on a Honda CBR1000RR-R that made significant progress since last season.

And with another top six potentially on the cards in race two at Most, a puncture just two laps from the end ended any hopes of the Spaniard battling Andrea Locatelli and Garrett Gerloff.

“What can I say? I’m very frustrated with the end result, for many reasons. During the warm-up I felt so good and I was quick and consistent lap after lap,” added Lecuona.

“I knew we could do a strong sprint race in order to gain grid positions for race two. which meant I fell to P14.

“But I felt so good that I was able to catch up, going up to seventh, almost sixth in fact, but I didn’t quite manage to fight on the last lap with Locatelli. I was very happy with everything anyway.”

“Unfortunately, however, in the second race things got much worse because I was not comfortable with the rear, which had nothing to do with the previous race or yesterday. The gap between me and Gerloff and Locatelli therefore widened.”

“At first I didn’t understand why but then, with only two laps to go, I felt the rear tire let go and I had to stop with a flat tire on the straight. I’m very sad of what is our first DNF of the season, because there was nothing we could do about it.

“Not only did our points streak come to an end, but we also missed the chance to move back up to fifth in the championship. I’m frustrated with what happened.”

Honda remains one of two full WorldSBK factory teams yet to finalize their 2023 roster

While Lecuona is already signed up for the 2023 campaign, the HRC squad are yet to confirm whether fellow rookie Xavi Virgo will stay with the team.

Virgo, who has struggled with various injury issues since his Superbike debut, showed promise during the races, although single-lap pace proved much harder to find.

Hoping to stay in the HRC team next year, Vierge added: “I’m really happy with Honda, all the staff and the team, and I think everyone is happy with me. I think after the summer break we will have more news.”

“We don’t talk about that so much. We’re happy with each other. I’m really happy and I feel like I’m in a really competitive team. We’re making great progress.

“We’re not fighting for the positions we want, and deserve, but we’re still working really hard. I think if we keep it up we’ll get there.”

It would be a surprise to see Honda leave Virgo if such a decision were made given that the former Moto2 rider is not just a rookie but has been quicker than Lecuona at times in race conditions.

But one rider who could be interesting if he fails to secure the second Aruba.it Ducati race is Axel Bassani.

“I don’t know,” Bassani said when asked about the rumors linking him to Honda. “I’m focused on the track. Off the track, that’s my manager’s job. After that, I’ll talk to my manager and ask him.

“Honda is Honda; they have very good potential. It’s not great at the moment but on the right track. I think we’re doing a good job. All the riders want a factory bike, so we will see.”

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