World Endurance: Mercado Joins Honda Viltaïs Racing

World Endurance: Mercado Joins Honda Viltaïs Racing

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By FIM EWC:

Mercado chooses EWC for new career chapter

*Argentine completes Honda Viltaïs Racing’s Formula EWC attack for 2023

*He joins Bol d’Or-winning team’s existing riders Alt, Odendaal and Westmoreland

*Team boss Lucot impressed by Mercado’s human qualities and willingness to adapt

Argentine Leandro Mercado has chosen the FIM Endurance World Championship to open the latest chapter of his career following successful stints in the FIM Superbike World Championship.

The 31-year-old is joining Yannick Lucot’s Honda Viltaïs Racing for the 2023 EWC season when he will partner Florian Alt, Steven Odendaal and fourth rider James Westmoreland on the French team’s new-for-2023 #333 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade.

It will be Marcado’s first experience in the EWC while his signing brings a rider from South America to the all-action championship for the first time in recent memory.

Nicknamed ‘Tati’, Mercado began his career in 2008 in the Red Bull AMA US Rookies Cup and he underlined his potential the following year by becoming AMA Supersport champion.

He moved to Europe in 2010 to compete in the Italian CIV Speed Championship before he stepped up to the FIM Superbike World Championship in 2012 for a partial campaign.

Mercado claimed the European Superstock 1000 Cup title in 2014 on a privately-run Ducati ahead of a return to the Superbike World Championship for 2015. A year of consistent finishing earned him a strong eighth place in the final order.

After a year back on Superstock machinery, albeit as an official Ducati rider, Mercado returned to the World Superbike arena for 2017. But he did so on top form after he scored three wins and one podium from eight starts in European Superstock, missing the 2016 title by four points.

Having completed a six-year unbroken stint in World Superbikes, including two years riding with Honda power, Mercado will make his EWC debut in 2023 with the Bol d’Or-winning Viltaïs team, starting with the 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans from 13-16 April.

“For me it’s the start of new chapter on my career, and I’m very happy to make it with the Viltaïs family,” said Córdoba-born Mercado. “I could see the values and the strength of the team, the focusing to archive the goals. It’s a big challenge, and I am really motivated. I know I have to learn many things about Endurance, but I’m ready to give my 100 per cent to archive the goals. I had the opportunity to know all the people of the team in a great atmosphere and great determination. This year the team switch to Honda which I know the bike from the last two years, and I’ll give to the team all my experience. I want to say thanks to Yannick and the whole team for believing in me, and I can’t wait to start this new chapter.”

Honda Viltaïs Racing Team Manager Yannick Lucot said: “Tati knows the Honda well, but the first thing that catches our attention at Viltaïs is the human qualities. During our interview for a recruitment, I was accompanied by our physical and mental trainer in order to understand the psychology of the candidates. We saw several riders and the contact we had with Tati went very well. His willingness to adapt to a new team, to adhere to a common project and to prepare himself for this discipline that he is discovering, were decisive elements. If he succeeds in integrating quickly, we will definitely be there from the beginning of the 2023 season.”

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