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SBK, Lecuona: "Bautista didn't have the style to ride the Honda, you need strength"

“Alvaro is a small rider and he doesn't need a physical riding style, while with the Fireblade you need to fight to go fast. Petrucci is big and strong and has a fast bike, I hope to beat him”

SBK: Lecuona:

More than one month after his injury at Mandalika in FP2, which put an early end to his season, Iker Lecuona is ready to get back in the saddle of his CBR 1000 RR-R in the first winter test session, which will get underway today at the circuit of Jerez.

“It was a big highside. The last weeks I start to ride with the bike, Supermoto, flat track, last week with the bicycle. Trying to recover a little bit the power before coming here to Jerez for the first test – admitted the Spaniard on the eve of his return on the Fireblade - I feel good. Maybe not 100 per cent, for sure I need some time because, two or three weeks I cannot do nothing. But yeah, I’m very happy to be here so we’ll see during the test how it is.”

Despite the premature end to his season, the 22-year-old Valencian can only be satisfied with his debut year in the championship, in which he managed to conquer a pole position and a third place, giving the Golden Wing manufacturer its only podium in 2022.

“This year was amazing for me, honestly. From many years, I struggle a lot in Moto2, MotoGP. I never have a bike for fight in front. Maybe this year also we don’t have the best bike but I enjoy. I feel the support from Honda, I feel the support from my team, from the family so this gives me an extra energy all the year – continued Lecuona - In the second round in Assen I made this podium, was unbelievable for me, then in Barcelona made  pole position. Honestly, I’m very, very excited about this year. After the crash in Indonesia, I feel frustrated because I feel that my level is very high - maybe to fight for a podium. The bike improves quite a lot during the year. Also myself, I try to work hard and I try to improve my riding style and trying to learn about this championship.”

Adapting to this new reality hasn't been easy, but Lecuona is satisfied with his progress and is convinced he has built a good foundation to work on for next season.

“In the beginning, for me I struggle a little bit more, I think, than Xavi because I need to make a reset on everything - on my style, with electronic, with tyres. This bike, in the beginning for Xavi is too fast, more than the Moto2, for me it’s quite slow compared to the MotoGP so I need some time. But during this year we learn a lot, not 100 per cent, we need more time to learn more about the tyres, management during the races. The last races we improve a lot, we know also the bike need to develop in this area. But for sure next year we will start with a different mentality than this year. We have already one year, we know the bike has the pole position in Barcelona, fourth places in many tracks, the podium. We both have potential to do it so I think that mentality is different. We start with the knowledge that we can fight for a podium if everything works well.”

In recent years, many riders have made the transition from the MotoGP paddock to that of the production-based derivatives. Among these, the new World Champion Alvaro Bautista, who after a difficult period in Honda has taken the Borgo Panigale manufacturer back to the top.

“We can see that the performance from Alvaro this year was unbelievable, honestly, with Ducati. I think that this package, now, at this time, is the best package in this championship. He win many races and, not easier, never is easier but with some calm - is not like Toprak or Johnny that he need to fight a lot with the bike. I think the package, Ducati with Alvaro, was perfect. I joke during this year many times with Alvaro and he told me always the same - he told me every time for him is easier to ride with the Ducati. He feels good with Ducati and the Ducati feels good with Alvaro”.

What prevented Alvaro from going just as well with the Fireblade? Lecuona has clear ideas on the matter: “This Honda, we need to develop more for sure. During this year, my teammate Xavi and me, we improve a lot the bike. The bike make some steps, for sure not the step that we need to fight for a victory - we need some time, but is coming, 100 per cent – he explained – Alvaro with the Honda struggled a lot. Alvaro’s style is not to fight with the bike. We saw with Xavi and me, many crashes, many saves but many movement during the races for us. The Honda bikes, you need to fight with the bike to go fast.”

On which areas will development therefore focus in this winter break?

“We’ll see during the test many new pieces. Honestly I don’t know what we need to try because I don’t talk with my crew chief about the test but for sure we can make the step during this winter to fight in front. Then, we’ll see. I think the Honda is coming, my teammate and me we are 100 per cent ready to fight, so we will see. The weather isn't very promising, but we don't care: we have things to test, but we also need to improve in the wet, so any condition is good for us. We'll see how these winter tests go, but I hope we'll arrive at the start of the season with the potential to be able to fight at the top."

Will Bautista's domination remain so even with the introduction of the minimum weight limit for bike and rider?

"I saw what Redding wrote on social media and these things make me angry, because I agree with Xavi: comparisons cannot be made, because Alvaro gains in some areas, but loses in others" commented the Honda rider, who next season will find himself fighting on the track against his old teammate, Danilo Petrucci, on the Panigale V4R of the Barni team.

“As I said to Danilo, I'm very happy for him. We were teammates, we struggled a lot and I think everyone knows that at the beginning of the year we didn't talk to each other much, because we were fighting for the same place. But when we knew how things really were in KTM, we started to have a good relationship and we had a lot of fun in the last 5-6 races. I tried to help him and he did the same with me and we spoke often while he was racing in MotoAmerica - admitted the 22 year old - Honestly, I'm really happy. I think he will go very fast with the Ducati. I know I have to beat him and I hope to do it, but we'll see on track. He's big and strong, he fights hard and has a very fast bike, so I think he has a great package to fight for the championship. I'm really looking forward to seeing him on track."

 

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