The eighth Superbike World Championship round of the 2023 season is now underway at the Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic. The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team is on track with Brazilian rider Eric Granado and Estonian rider Hannes Soomer, who substitutes for the injured Hafizh Syahrin this weekend.
Granado made the most of the morning’s first practice. This first session began in wet conditions, but the track gradually dried throughout the course of the 45 minutes available to riders. Despite having never visited the track before and regardless of the mixed conditions, the Brazilian worked hard to adapt to this new layout. Making the most of the final minutes, when the surface had all but dried, Eric set a best of 1’36.811 to place tenth. A strong result considering that many riders failed to complete a lap within the qualifying limits. Soomer’s weekend got off to a bit of an uphill start, the Estonian suffering a crash at turn 21 towards the end of FP1. Hannes was fortunately deemed fit to compete in the afternoon’s second practice.
The early stages of FP2 brought a crash also for Granado just as he was pushing to lower his lap time. Although the Brazilian was not seriously hurt, suffering only contusions to his right hand, he was unable to return to the track, forced to remain in the pits as his technicians worked hard to repair damage to his bike. Soomer gradually improved his lap times during this second session, a best of 1’34.978 seeing the Estonian place twenty-first as Friday’s track action drew to a close. Granado was only able to complete four laps, meaning that a time of 1’36.076 was his best of the day. This reference put him twenty-third overall at the end of day one.
Hannes Soomer P21
“First practice could have been better; it was a shame about the crash. But FP2 ran in totally dry conditions so I was able to learn the bike a little bit and understand some of the differences between the stock bike and superbike, working to adapt to the bike and adapt the bike to my riding style. I have recent experience of this track and know how fast I can go here, so I can say for sure that we’re not at full potential yet. But this is normal on day one, the team doesn’t know me and vice versa, so it’s a learning process. We’ll see how we go tomorrow.”
Eric Granado P23
“The first session went quite well as I was able to make some laps in the wet before switching to slick tyres in the mixed conditions and I felt that I had pretty good feeling. I like the track and felt good at the start of FP2 too, but then I suffered a huge highside. We still need to understand what happened, as I was improving lap after lap but didn’t feel that I did anything strange. Luckily I’m not seriously hurt, just some pain in my right hand, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. It won’t be easy physically I guess, but I’ll do my best as always.”