The 2022 WorldSBK season promises to be a ‘very important’ one for Honda, says HRC Director Tetsuhiro Kuwata. 

Team HRC became the first WorldSBK team of 2022 to unveil their colours for the upcoming season, while also officially presenting Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge ahead of the new season. 

Lecuona and Vierge, who have both taken part in two tests at Jerez, will make their official debut during round one of the season at Aragon (April 8-10).

Before that, the former MotoGP (Lecuona) and Moto2 (Vierge) riders will take part in another two tests, one of which is the official Dorna organised test just days prior to the season getting underway - once again at MotorLand Aragon. 

While the 2022 season signifies their first in WorldSBK - their first outside the GP paddock - it’s also a campaign that will see Lecuona and Vierge represent Honda during their 30-year anniversary of racing the CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE.

Speaking about the importance of this upcoming season and the decision to sign two rookies, Kuwata added: "The CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE turns 30 this year, and I believe that there are several reasons to celebrate this. 

"This machine has enjoyed a lot of support from the fans and customers and that’s why it has continued to thrive for 30 years, despite the global landscape having changed dramatically in the meantime. 

"We want to repay their loyalty by winning races, something that would heighten their desire to support both the CBR and our activities. The 2022 season is very important for us, and we have to focus and do our best to achieve our target, but the most important thing is the approach we take as we aim for the top. 

"We always work together with professionalism and mutual respect, moving forward in the same direction. In Iker and Xavi we sought out riders who have both the potential and the speed. Iker demonstrated his speed in MotoGP and was quite fast, particularly in difficult conditions. Xavi also showed his potential in Moto2, over many seasons."

Given the fact both riders are completely new to Superbike racing and will therefore ‘need time’ to deliver the results Honda are hoping for, especially as the Japanese manufacturer has a relatively big gap to close on the likes of Yamaha, Ducati and Kawasaki, Kuwata is convinced their ‘potential’ will come to the fore. 

"Neither of them has any experience of the WSBK championship, so perhaps they will need a little time to get to grips with this championship, but once they grasp it, they will start to show their potential."