Honda WorldSBK officially launched its 2023 campaign on Tuesday morning alongside the announcement it would be going interactive for the coming year.
A virtual garage tour will allow fans to get an ‘insider’ viewpoint of the Superbike team in action across the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship season with content updated across the year.
While 2022 proved a successful ‘rookie’ season for Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge with the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade, Team Manager Leon Camier is confident the pairing can hit the ground running for their sophomore term, with podiums and race wins now the consistent target.
“The 2022 World Superbike season was a good foundation year for our two young rookies,” Camier confirmed. “Throughout the season, we were able to see what they are both capable of and were impressed by the way in which they were able to quickly adapt to new circuits and different situations. Now that we’ve done a lot of the learning, we can aim to focus on race performance right from FP1.
“We’ve worked hard in a lot of areas and improved in many aspects,” he continued, on the pre-season work recently concluded at Portimao ahead of the flight to Australia for the official test and opening round. “2023 starts now, and we’re ready to go. The goal is to improve globally, both with the bike on the team’s side, and working to take another step more generally speaking. Our top speed has always been really good with the Fireblade, but we must keep working to improve in every area. When you bring a new spec of a given component to improve in one area, you sometimes find this sets you back in another area. This is something that Honda have been working very hard on in Japan and we are confident that this year we will make another step in the right direction.
“To expect to go from where we were last season to aiming for a title win will be very difficult, but this is essentially our goal, and one that we will keep working towards until we achieve it.”
Having repeatedly knocked on the door of the podium, and been successful in race two podium at Assen, Lecuona is confident there is much more to come this season.
“We learned a lot last year and achieved some strong results, like pole position in Barcelona and a podium at Assen, which we weren’t really expecting as that was only the second race,” the Spaniard admitted. “Definitely a very positive year overall, and it helped me get to grips with a lot of things, like how to manage the situation in every race and at every track, also with the Pirelli tyres that were very difficult to understand at first.
“I plan to harness all that I learned in 2022 in the year to come,” he continued, after being forced to miss the final two rounds of 2022 due to injury. “Over the winter, the team and everyone back in the Honda factory have worked really hard to provide us with a better bike. We still have two days of testing in Australia before the first race, so we have time to understand the new material and find the best setup in order to exploit it as best we can.
“We start with the two rounds that I wasn’t able to compete in last season, but I like both tracks, feel good, and am ready to give it my all.”
It’s a sentiment shared by teammate Vierge.
“This is my second year in WorldSBK and so we’ll benefit from not having to start from scratch,” he confirmed. “We now know many of the tracks and understand how the tyres and electronics work, while it was all a big challenge for me last year.
“2022 wasn’t an easy season but we scored some good results and demonstrated our potential. They’ve been working hard in Japan and so we’ve had a lot of work to do and elements to test over the winter. I am really pleased with how that all’s gone and now we just need to identify our base setup for the season.
“Testing is great but it doesn’t compare to racing. Luckily, this year we start early and there’s no better places than Australia and Indonesia.
“I love those tracks, especially Phillip Island. It’s the first time I’m heading there in February, which is summertime, so I’m looking forward to getting there and beginning what should be an amazing season.”