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SBK, Lecuona confirms he could have replaced Marquez in MotoGP, but it wouldn't have made sense

INTERVIEW - “I said no because MotoGP would have been too great a risk. If I had been inspired by Bautista I wouldn’t have been able to ride the Honda in SBK. In KTM with Petrucci there was not a good relationship at the beginning due to a lot of bullshit, then the story changed. Those who replaced us also suffered "

SBK: Lecuona confirms he could have replaced Marquez in MotoGP, but it wouldn't have made sense

This is his first World Superbike season with a manufacturer behind him that immediately believed in him to chart the new course after Alvaro Bautista had left. For the Superbike project, Honda decided last year to focus on the qualities of Iker Lecuona. After his MotoGP adventure, the Spanish rider didn’t pass on the opportunity in the production-based series, arriving in a paddock and on a motorcycle that day after day is becoming more and more tailor-made.

On the eve of the Magny-Cours round, the Superbike rookie dedicated this long interview to us. A lot of topics were touched in addition to the World Championship, including the Suzuka 8 Hours, where the Spaniard contributed to HRC’s success together with Nagashima and Takahashi.

“The victory at the 8 Hours was something truly incredible - he began - it was my first time in a competition of this kind and I was surprised. Together with Honda we did a fantastic job on the pace, especially in the tests that preceded the race. Tetsu Nagashima made impeccable development and in the end we were able to win, managing every step of the race in the best possible way ”.

On a human level, what did this race leave you?

“At the first stint on Sunday my heart was beating a thousand, without knowing why. In addition, on Saturday, at the exit of the pit lane, a rider hit me from behind with his knee. I didn't understand what the hell was going on (he jokes) ”.

Many observers are wondering why Honda wins at Suzuka and struggles in World SBK?

“The tests certainly helped us, as Tetsu did a lot of laps at Suzuka and our preparation was incredible. We tested a lot more than the others and I just had to get on the bike, find the right position and push hard”.

And in Superbike?

“We need time to improve the base of our CBR, in fact this is only the third year. At the moment we are in the second group and we have to face rivals like Ducati, Kawasaki and Yamaha who have been working for ten to twelve years now ”.

Are you planning to go to Japan to lay the foundations for 2023?

“No, because the engineers will be coming here to Europe as happened in Misano. There is maximum collaboration with them, especially on the development side, where the effort has been considerable. Honda wants to win in this Championship and we believe in it ”.

This CBR has incredible engine potential, but perhaps there are other things that are missing.

"Exactly! I was surprised by the engine's potential as I am one of the fastest riders on the track. However, we need a step forward, but we are limited from a regulatory point of view and changes are needed from this point of view. Other manufacturers such as Ducati, Yamaha and Kawasaki designed sports bikes and later put them on the road. We, on the other hand, did the opposite, that is, from the road to the track. During this season, however, we have made a good step forward and in the last test we introduced some new things for 2023. Our current potential, in my opinion, could allow us to fight for fourth place. But I want to be confident for 2023 with the intention of having a strong bike and winning. "

Last year there was Bautista in your place. Did you take inspiration from Alvaro in any way?

"No, I never followed him. My priority was to finish the MotoGP races in the best possible way and then dedicate myself to Superbike. In the end, Alvaro and I are very different as riders: I have an aggressive ride, plus the size of the body is different, since I am taller and bigger. If I had been inspired by Bautista I wouldn’t have been able to ride the Honda in what is my style ”.

How big was the leap from MotoGP to SBK in terms of riding style?

“In the end my style is the same as always. There have been no particularly big changes. I simply adapted it to the Honda, so much so that at Assen I had some memories of MotoGP in the fast sections."

Recently, many people wrote that you could have replaced Marquez on the Honda MotoGP. Is this true?

"I had the opportunity, but I can't say any more than that, because then my manager would box my ears (he jokes). Joking aside, I confirm that I could have replaced Marc, but it wouldn't have made any sense, given that my priority is Superbike. In this world championship we are all giving our all to achieve a great result. MotoGP could certainly be interesting, but there is a risk that you will do a race, have a crash and this could compromise my work in the SBK paddock. Superbike is the priority for me, we are growing considerably and I feel good on this bike. So I don't see the reason to change the focus ”.

How difficult was the adventure with KTM?

“With KTM I suffered a lot and this also applied to all the other riders like Petrucci, Oliveira, Binder. As I have said several times, I thank KTM for the opportunity, even if it didn't end well. I don't deny that I would have liked to have stayed in MotoGP, but today I'm here in SBK at the centre of a project. Among other things, the riders who replaced us have also suffered a lot this season. "

Iker, who is going to win the SBK World Championship between Alvaro, Toprak and Rea?

“They are three very strong riders. Toprak struggled at first, but then he was very good at closing the gap. Alvaro has a competitive bike and I think he has a great chance. He has to manage the situation in the best possible way, because Rea is close and we know very well how good he is ”.

Have you talked to Marquez recently?

"No, I never heard from him. We talked to each other in the past, but not recently. For sure it's fantastic to see him back on the bike ”.

And Danilo?

"There is a good rapport with Petrux, he also wrote to me after the victory at Suzuka to congratulate me. I often follow him on his adventure in America and I wish him the best for this season finale. At the beginning, however, our relationship was not like that due to so much internal bullshit at KTM. We were both fighting for a place and it wasn't easy. Today, however, everything is different ”.

 

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