The factory Honda Team HRC which will compete in the 2022 World Superbike Championship with an all-new rider line-up, was officially presented today during an online event dedicated to fans and media from all over the world. Twenty-two year old Iker Lecuona and 24 year old Xavi Vierge spoke to the fans for the first time as factory HRC riders, talking about the excitement of becoming part of the Honda family and explaining how they are preparing for the challenges posed by the debut in a new and competitive championship.
Team Manager Leon Camier and HRC Director Tetsuhiro Kuwata welcomed the arrival of Iker and Xavi, talking about what’s new in the team and the expectations for 2022. With this year marking the 30th anniversary of a bike that has inspired countless road riders around the world, the stunning livery of the CBR1000RR-R appeared refreshed in the HRC logo and in the colors of the iconic CBR design and enriched by the FIREBLADE 30th anniversary celebration logo.
Team HRC is now ready to hit the track for a new test session scheduled in Portimao on February 17-18, in preparation for the start of the season which will kick off in Aragon over the weekend of 8-10 of April.
Leon Camier – Team Manager, Team HRC
“It’s really exciting for me to start a new season as Team Manager for the Honda factory team in WorldSBK. I will put all my effort into improving, and to developing the team as best I can. Of course one of the main topic regarding the team is our all-new riders line up with the arrival of Iker and Xavi. Our first impressions have been really good, to be honest. The speed they immediately demonstrated on the bike was impressive. We were quite surprised that they were able to get on the bike during the first test and immediately set good lap times. They both gave similar feedback, which is very positive for us, as it gives us a solid direction to work in, both this year and for the future. Technically, a few changes have been made to the bike and everyone is very excited about the work that’s been done in Japan. We know everyone has been working hard and we are keen to see what kind of progress we can make this year”.
Tetsuhiro Kuwata – HRC Director – General Manager Race Operations Management Division
“The CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE turns 30 this year, and I believe that there are several reasons to celebrate this. This machine has enjoyed a lot of support from the fans and customers and that’s why it has continued to thrive for 30 years, despite the global landscape having changed dramatically in the meantime. We want to repay their loyalty by winning races, something that would heighten their desire to support both the CBR and our activities. The 2022 season is very important for us, and we have to focus and do our best to achieve our target, but the most important thing is the approach we take as we aim for the top. We always work together with professionalism and mutual respect, moving forward in the same direction. In Iker and Xavi we sought out riders who have both the potential and the speed. Iker demonstrated his speed in MotoGP and was quite fast, particularly in difficult conditions. Xavi also showed his potential in Moto2, over many seasons. Neither of them has any experience of the WSBK championship, so perhaps they will need a little time to get to grips with this championship, but once they grasp it, they will start to show their potential”.
“When, at the beginning of last season, I spoke with my manager and he told me about this possibility, I thought it was incredible, an opportunity to join a factory Honda team in World Superbike. So, we seized the opportunity to jump on board. There’s a lot to learn yes, but I am quite lucky in that we have quite a few days of testing before the season starts, so this is very helpful as I adapt to the bike. The team is also helping me a lot. We are two young riders who come from another championship, and everything is new for us. We have a lot of power, a lot of emotion, and we will spur each other on. I think the challenging part is when you come to a new championship with a new bike, new everything, if you have a team-mate with experience in that championship, you can speak with him about the bike, the tyres etc. but we have Leon (Camier) who was a rider for many years, so we can speak a lot with him, and he can help us. I feel quite good. Let’s continue working”.
“I’m really happy. When Honda come to speak with me to sign for Superbike, this became the first option for me, firstly because it’s a factory team, but also because it’s Honda. For me I think Honda is one of the best factories in the motorcycle world and I am really happy and really excited to start. I don’t think I have to change a lot my riding style. I am a rider and I can adapt and if the bike needs something I try to help the bike go faster. The feeling is completely different: tyres, suspension, frame, everything is completely different from what I was used to. It’s something I need to learn. I need more kilometres but for now I am quite happy so we will see during the winter test; but I think it will be fine. A challenge is having three races in a weekend, which is a lot physically, but is also good because I am a rider who if the limit is here, likes to play on the line. Sometimes I crash. So, with three races I have more chances to have a good result (laugh).”