By Dan McCarthy

MotoGP rider Iker Lecuona will enter the FIM World Superbike paddock next year after signing an agreement with the Honda factory team.

The Spaniard has raced in MotoGP with the Tech 3 KTM team for the past two years, scoring a career sixth place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix earlier this year.

For Lecuona, racing for the Honda WSBK team represents a new challenge for the 21-year-old Spaniard.

“I will be racing next year with the HRC in WorldSBK,” Lecuona said on social media. “It will be a big challenge and I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun, but first let’s make the most of the last two rounds of the current season.

“A big hug to all of you and thank you for your support. “

Prior to his two MotoGP campaigns, he spent three full seasons in Moto2.

The 21-year-old made his debut in the middle of the 2016 season at the age of just 16 and has gradually worked his way up the ranks year after year.

His best result was a second place at the end of the Valencia Grand Prix season in 2018.

Lecuona will be joined in the squad by fellow Spanish rookie WSBK Xavi Vierge.

Virgo is a Moto2 veteran having spent seven seasons in the intermediate class, winning four podiums and three pole positions during that time.

“I am very happy to announce that next season I will join Team HRC in WorldSBK; It is a dream for me to be part of the HRC.

Honda has said goodbye to two experienced WSBK riders, former MotoGP rider Alvaro Bautista will return to the Ducati World Superbike team.

Just ahead of the announcement of the new Honda lineup, the new team announced that 2010 WSBK runner-up Leon Haslam would be leaving the team after two seasons with the team.

HRC team director Leon Camier spoke of the 38-year-old Englishman’s hard work and dedication, thanking him for his efforts.

“Over the time we spent working together, we have had the opportunity to appreciate Leon as a driver and as a person,” said Camier.

“We would like to thank him for his hard work, dedication and total commitment to our project and the team. It was a pleasure working with him and we wish him the best for the future.

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