The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team is fielding Hafizh Syahrin and substitute rider Leandro ‘Tati’ Mercado as it tackles the final round of the 2023 Superbike World Championship at the Jerez Circuit in Spain. Mercado stands in for Eric Granado, ruled out by doctors this weekend after he sustained injury at the Portuguese round.
The weekend’s opening practice session ran on a wet track this morning. The complicated conditions meant that most of the Superbike riders, Syahrin included, remained in the garage, opting not to take any risks or ‘waste’ any of their tyre allocation. Mercado made just a brief exit in the final minutes, refamiliarizing himself with a bike he previously rode in 2022.
Conditions fortunately improved in time for Friday’s second practice, allowing Syahrin and Mercado to make the most of the (almost) dry track time. Hafizh worked hard with his technicians to adapt the CBR1000RR-R to the track, while Leandro focused on modifying the setup to suit his riding style. At the session’s end, the Malaysian was lying nineteenth with a fastest time of 1’42.865, set in the final minute. The Argentinian rider also made a step in the final seconds, closing twenty-third with a 1’44.151.
Hafizh Syahrin P19
“A good start in FP2, considering that no one went out during FP1 due to the track conditions. The humidity doesn’t help the track to dry and so it was still damp for session two. Despite that, we avoided mistakes and took a good step at the end. I made a small mistake through sector four on my fastest lap so I think we can find a couple more tenths there. A good start anyway, though I hope we can perhaps find better grip tomorrow. We’ll keep working hard to prepare for the last races of the season.”
Leandro Mercado P23
“It’s great to be back in WorldSBK, an unexpected but pleasant surprise. The team called me yesterday and I was available to stand in for Eric, and so here I am. No pressure or expectations of course, we’ll just see what we can do over the three days. It was a shame we couldn’t make the most of FP1, but we got to work this afternoon and will try to build on what we’ve done in tomorrow’s sessions.”