Team HRC riders Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge have been confirmed to race in the Suzuka 8 Hours along with the return of the World Superbike Championship to Donington Park.
Lecuona who is a former MotoGP rider will attempt to repeat his victory at the Japanese track from the previous year, and Vierge will take part in the historic race for the first time. The #27 has had a busy year, competing in two MotoGP events in addition to his regular WSBK commitments.
Lecuona will return to WorldSBK action this weekend at Donington Park after filling in for the injured Joan Mir at the Dutch MotoGP last weekend.
The Spaniard has competed twice in MotoGP this season after taking Marc Marquez’s place in Jerez in April, replacing another Repsol Honda rider.
Lecuona, who is currently 11th in the WorldSBK standings after 15 races (five rounds), has had a difficult second season.
Honda has struggled to catch up to the leaders so far this season despite making considerable improvements to their CRB1000RR-R as is evident from their performances.
As he prepares to make his debut in the Suzuka 8-hour race, Xavi Vierge, who was considerably stronger than Lecuona in his rookie season ranks eighth in the championship.
Lecuona said this about continuing to represent Honda after winning the race with Takumi Takahashi, who will join him, Vierge, and Tetsuta Nagashima on the three-rider squad.
“I’m very happy to be able to fight in Suzuka 8 Hours as Team HRC again this year,” Lecuona said. “I was able to win last year, but I understood that it was not an easy race.
“This year, my teammates will be Takumi Takahashi and Xavi Vierge, and I’m looking forward to running with them now.
“We will do our best with the team and staff and aim for the top of the podium.”
Former Moto2 rider Vierge believes Honda can win consecutive races without any challenges.
“This time, I will participate in Suzuka 8 Hours for the first time from Team HRC,” he said. “I am very happy to be able to participate as a rider on the same stage where many riders have made history so far.
“Iker Lecuona is also a teammate in WorldSBK, and Takumi Takahashi is a great rider with a lot of past race experience. I believe that if the three riders work together, we can win the race.”
Lecuona will become the second rider on the current WSBK grid to win back-to-back races with Honda if he triumphs in this year’s competition, joining Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who won the competition in 2013 and 2014.
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) claimed three victories in a row between 2016 and 2018, including two victories with van der Mark, the Dutchman also won the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2017 and 2018 with Yamaha.
It is crucial to keep in mind that the Suzuka race is the third of the four races that make up the World Endurance Championship and as such, it is going to take place on August 6th, one week after WSBK’s action at Most.