FIRST PICS: New Honda era begins as Vierge, Lecuona make WorldSBK test debut

Honda is the big attraction from the final WorldSBK test of 2021 as it BMW and Kawasaki begin their preparations for the 2022 WorldSBK Championship

Xavi Vierge - Honda HRC WorldSBK [credit: Instagram]

Honda’s fresh era of WorldSBK is getting underway in earnest as ex-MotoGP rider Iker Lecuona and ex-Moto2 man Xavi Vierge made their debut in HRC colours with the first pre-season test of 2022 at Jerez.

The Spanish-based factory-backed HRC outfit is one of three teams putting in some miles before the Christmas break, alongside Kawasaki and BMW, with a view to getting the two former GP riders up to speed before they make their first race appearances in April 2022.

Indeed, not only is Honda the only factory team to commit to an all-new rider line-up for the 2022 WorldSBK Championship, it’s entrusting it to two rookies in the form of Lecuona, who joins after two seasons spent with Tech 3 KTM in MotoGP, and Vierge, who moves over after several seasons competing in Moto2.

They replace Ducati-bound Alvaro Bautista and the as-yet-unsigned Leon Haslam aboard a revised Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade, which has had its chassis tweaked in roadgoing form in order to address issues that made the outgoing version too stiff to set-up competitively.

They will be joined on track by Scott Redding, who after making his first laps on the BMW M 1000 RR last week will measure up against his rivals for the first time, including team-mate Michael van der Mark.

Kawasaki will also be on track in preparation to reclaim its WorldSBK title from Yamaha, with Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR. The test will be an important one for the latter especially having had his latter portion of the season hampered by injuries.

The test in Jerez comes after the Spanish venue was left off the 2022 WorldSBK calendar, along with Navarra