The seventh round of the Superbike World Championship is taking place at the Navarra Circuit in Spain, a new entry on the 2021 calendar and therefore a track that is unknown to most of the WorldSBK field, including MIE Racing Honda rider Leandro ‘Tati’ Mercado.

Back on board after having missed round six due to a positive Covid-19 test, Mercado was out on track today for the first free practice sessions. During the opening session, the Argentinian spent time learning the new layout and building confidence aboard his CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE. By the end of the 45-minute phase, Tati had set a best of 1’40.716 to position eighteenth.

The set-up work continued throughout the afternoon’s second practice, Leandro working hard with his technicians to adapt his bike to the particular layout of the narrow Spanish track. By the end of day one, Tati had set a 1’40.699 to finish nineteenth in the combined standings.

Leandro Mercado 36

P19 1'40.699 +3.070

“It was nice to get back in the saddle today. It hasn’t been easy though, because the track is very different from the others, very bumpy and with a lot of undulation. Coming here without ever having seen or ridden the track, unlike most of the other riders, means we have double the work to do. Anyway, this morning I learned the track and got a little bit more comfortable. Then the conditions changed a lot for FP2 in that it was very hot with little grip. We worked on the set-up, trying different things with the electronics and the chassis and we have more to try tomorrow as we work to improve particularly in terms of corner entry and grip. Hopefully we can make a step forward during tomorrow’s final practice.”