Spanish motorcycle racer Iker Lecuona lost his seat at the Tech 3 KTM satellite after just two years in the MotoGP World Championship. When the Grand Prix door closed, however, the Superbike World Championship (WSBK) door flew open, with WSBK Team HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) scooping up the 22-year-old rider for the 2022 season.
Lecuona has already displayed great promise after the first four rounds of the championship, currently residing at 5th place in the standings with 99 points to his name. That form isn’t lost on Honda, and Team HRC has tapped number 7 to pilot the number 33 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP for the 2022 Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race.
“I am happy to be able to compete with Team HRC in the Suzuka 8 Hours,” Lecuona acknowledged. "It's my first endurance race. The Suzuka 8 Hours is a physically tough race for the riders due to the high temperature and humidity and the difficulty of overtaking.”
Luckily, HRC tester Tetsuta Nagashima and three-time Suzuka winner Takumi Takahashi will show Lecuona the ropes during the third round of the 2022 World Endurance Championship (WEC). Despite the Honda rider’s current form and experienced teammates, he’ll still have his work cut out for him. Kawasaki plans to field veteran WSBK KRT (Kawasaki Racing Team) riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes alongside former Team HRC rider Leon Haslam.
Team Green won the most recent Suzuka 8 Hours race in 2019, with Rea, Haslam, and current WSBK champion Toprak Razgatlıoğlu riding the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR to victory. Following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the legendary endurance race will return to the WEC on August 5-7, 2022.
While Kawasaki won the last battle at the Japanese track, Honda still claims the most Suzuka victories (27), and Lecuona will do his best to push that number to 28 in 2022.
"I really like the Suzuka circuit. I can't wait to race there. I'll do my best with the team and staff and aim for the top of the podium,” added Lecuona.
Sources: Motociclismo, Honda Racing Corporation, FIM EWC