Iker Lecuona believes fighting for a WorldSBK title with Honda will have to wait beyond his rookie season. 

The former MotoGP rider is set to take part in his first ever campaign on Superbike machinery in 2022, meaning a change from Michelin tyres to Pirelli, brakes, suspension, chassis and engine are all different to what he experienced on a ‘prototype’ MotoGP bike. 

While that’s already enough for a rookie to get to grips with during their first season, being with a team that finished last of the five full factory teams in 2021 means fighting the likes of Toprak Razgatlioglu, Jonathan Rea and possibly Alvaro Bautista on the Ducati will be a very tall task this upcoming season. 

Although Lecuona believes Honda have a lot of ‘potential’, something that already became more evident towards the end of last season as Bautista took two podiums and could have had five in total had it not been for crashes and an incident with Loris Baz at Portimao - the young Spaniard is under no illusions that fighting for a title in 2021 is unrealistic, instead adapting to the class and developing the bike alongside fellow rookie Xavi Vierge is the main aim. 

Lecuona said: "I think Honda is one of the best factories. We have the factory behind us to develop the bike and to fight for a title. But I think the bike is not ready to fight for a title yet. 

"I also think Honda has a lot of potential to improve. We have very young riders but a lot of experience; I have experience in MotoGP, Xavi [Vierge] in Moto2, so I think we have a very good level to try and improve the bike during this pre-season before the first race. 

"For my side I don’t have any objective to win the title (2022) because I think we need to develop the bike and feel good with the team. 

"Then if we work very hard and good with the bike then we can fight for a title for sure. First we need to adapt ourself to the bike."

Lecuona’s move from MotoGP to WorldSBK sees him switch from the Tech 3 KTM team where he’s been aboard an RC16 for the last two seasons.

Even though it was a factory team in the sense that Lecuona and team-mate Danilo Petrucci received identical parts as official RedBull KTM riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira, Lecuona was always a step behind in receiving them.

So when speaking about the differences of being in the Tech 3 team compared to that of Team HRC, albeit he’s only had one test with the latter so far, Lecuona alluded to feeling a lot more like a factory rider, something that’s ‘really nice honestly’.

"It’s difficult to say how it compares. For sure, with KTM already I stayed two years in the same box, with the same people," added the 22 year-old. "In this case with Honda I stayed just one test, just one day and a half because I had that crash. 

"It’s difficult to say. For sure, it’s different because in KTM it’s true I had the support from the factory, but I was not the factory, so the new pieces or something like that arrived a bit late. They arrived it’s true, I cannot say the opposite, but it’s not the same. 

"In this case I feel different. I feel all the Japanese are here in the background, when I go in the box all the team immediately listen and try to help and understand my position. 

"I’ve only had one test but I feel good with the team and I feel like a factory rider. It’s really, really nice to feel like this honestly."