Impressive Iker Lecuona proves point, returns Honda to WorldSBK podium

Ex-MotoGP rider Iker Lecuona steps foot on the WorldSBK podium in only his second outing as he emerges as a star performer for Honda in Assen

Iker Lecuona - HRC Honda WorldSBK

Iker Lecuona became the latest ex-MotoGP rider to land a podium finish in WorldSBK as he returned Honda to the top three for the first time this season at Assen.

One half of an all-new, all-Spanish rider line-up for Team HRC this season, while Lecuona and Xavi Vierge were evenly matched on their debuts in Aragon earlier this month, it was the former Tech 3 KTM MotoGP rider that stepped it up in the Netherlands.

Rarely slipping outside the top six all weekend, Lecuona consolidated his competitive single lap pace into a pair of fifth place finishes in Race 1 and the Superpole Race.

However, his fortunes soared further in Race 2 as one of the big beneficiaries of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea’s collision and retirement ahead of him, Lecuona pouncing in the melee to jump from fifth to first.

Though his time in the lead was only brief, Lecuona held firm in second until the latter stages when he was eventually overhauled by Yamaha’s Andrea Locatelli. Nevertheless, he retained plenty in hand to hold onto third, in so doing notching up only the fourth rostrum visit for a Honda rider in WorldSBK since the HRC factory-effort restarted in 2020.

“I’m really, really happy. I felt very fast, very good all weekend with the bike but have had some ups and downs, so I perhaps wasn’t expecting the podium but [I aimed for] maybe top five.. 

“We got that in Race 1 and then in the Superpole race, I felt very comfortable and closer to the top guys. So for Race 2 I thought, OK, it’s time to attack. 

“When I saw Toprak and Rea crash, I knew I had an opportunity to fight for the podium. Alvaro was very fast, and I couldn’t stick with him for long, but I was able to maintain a small gap to Locatelli for many laps. By the final stages, my rear tyre was finished, and he passed me, but third place is just fine. 

“I was very happy to bring my Honda to the podium. I must say thank you to the team for the great job they’ve done here, so a big thanks to them, to my manager and to my family, who always support me so well. 

“We have the potential, but we need more time, so we need to stay focused and keep working with our feet on the ground. We may face some tracks that are less favourable to us, so our target is to keep working hard, step by step and see what will happen.”

As well as marking his first podium in WorldSBK, it is Lecuona’s first top three finish on the World Championship stage since the 2019 Thailand Moto2 race.