Barcelona WSBK: Lecuona scores Honda's first pole in six years

Iker Lecuona scored Honda’s first pole position in the World Superbike Championship since 2016 with a stunning effort in Saturday’s qualifying session at Barcelona.

Barcelona WSBK: Lecuona scores Honda's first pole in six years
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Having set the pace in Friday practice on the factory Honda Fireblade, Lecuona was again the rider to beat in the 15-minute pole shootout on Saturday as he edged out Kawasaki duo Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea to the top spot.

With the track having dried out for the start of qualifying following rain showers overnight, the Spanish rider was immediately able to lower his FP1 benchmark of 1m41.396s by 0.066s.

This put him 0.011s clear of the factory Kawasaki of Lowes and a full three tenths up on Toprak Razgatlioglu after the first runs, as Xavi Vierge occupied fourth run on the other works Honda.

When the riders returned on track on fresh tyres for a final shot at pole position, it was Andrea Locatelli who made the biggest initial gains, dislodging Lecuona from the top with a 1m40.991s.

But Lecuona immediately fought back, finding a whopping six tenths on his final flier to seal his maiden pole position with a time of 1m40.766s - and a first for Honda since Michael van der Mark six years ago.

Lowes equalled his best starting position of the season in second, falling just 0.023s shy of scoring a second career pole position in WSBK.

Rea didn’t have the pace to match his teammate or overall pacesetter Lecuona, but was the best-placed championship contender in third with a time of 1m40.983s.

Locatelli had to settle for fourth after his early heroics in the second run, but he did beat the Ducati of championship leader Alvaro Bautista by more than a tenth of a second.

The tag of the top independent rider went to GRT Yamaha’s Garrett Gerloff as he booked a spot on the outside of the second row, although Axel Bassani qualifying right behind him in seventh on the Motocorsa Ducati.

Toprak Razgatlioglu endured his worst qualifying session of the season as his strategy to follow Locatellli on his second run backfired, leaving him a disappointing eighth on the grid.

He will be joined on the third row by Vierge’s Honda, as Ducati’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi rebounded from an early crash to take 10th at the finish.

No BMWs featured inside the top 10, with the marque’s best runner Scott Redding finishing more than a second off the pace in 13th.

Barcelona WSBK - Qualifying results:

Cla # Rider Bike Time Gap
1 7 Spain Iker Lecuona Honda 1'40.766  
2 22 United Kingdom Alex Lowes Kawasaki 1'40.789 0.023
3 65 United Kingdom Jonathan Rea Kawasaki 1'40.983 0.217
4 55 Italy Andrea Locatelli Yamaha 1'40.991 0.225
5 19 Spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 1'41.148 0.382
6 31 United States Garrett Gerloff Yamaha 1'41.208 0.442
7 47 Italy Axel Bassani Ducati 1'41.594 0.828
8 1 Turkey Toprak Razgatlioglu Yamaha 1'41.638 0.872
9 97 Spain Xavi Vierge Honda 1'41.683 0.917
10 21 Italy Michael Ruben Rinaldi Ducati 1'41.836 1.070
11 44 France Lucas Mahias Kawasaki 1'41.937 1.171
12 5 Germany Philipp Oettli Ducati 1'42.028 1.262
13 45 United Kingdom Scott Redding BMW 1'42.038 1.272
14 76 France Loris Baz BMW 1'42.384 1.618
15 3 Japan Kohta Nozane Yamaha 1'42.469 1.703
16 50 Ireland Eugene Laverty BMW 1'42.469 1.703
17 29 San Marino Luca Bernardi Ducati 1'42.473 1.707
18 2 Italy Roberto Tamburini Yamaha 1'42.509 1.743
19 60 Netherlands Michael van der Mark BMW 1'42.916 2.150
20 23 France Christophe Ponsson Yamaha 1'43.005 2.239
21 99 Oscar Gutierrez Kawasaki 1'43.075 2.309
22 52 Czech Republic Oliver Konig Kawasaki 1'43.182 2.416
23 36 Argentina Leandro Mercado Honda 1'44.128 3.362
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Barcelona WSBK: Lecuona tops Friday practice for Honda
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