Marquez is missing his third event in a row due to the hand fracture from Portimao and, with test rider Stefan Bradl already entered as a wild-card, Repsol Honda decided to offer Lecuona an RCV debut.

Lecuona, 23, previously raced in MotoGP for Tech3 KTM during the 2020 and 2021 seasons - with a best finish of sixth - before being forced to switch to WorldSBK after both he and Danilo Petrucci were replaced by Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez.

“Yesterday I heard the news when my manager called me. And I said, ‘You’re joking?’ He said ‘No, no! We can go’. I said, ‘Okay, yes!’ But I was in shock because I woke up 30 minutes earlier, so I was still sleepy!” Lecuona said.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I woke up straight away and thought, ‘What do I need to do?’

Marc Marquez will MISS the Spanish GP ❌

“I didn’t have anything ready, so I needed to call the guys that drive the team truck to collect my things… I needed to drive to Barcelona to catch the plane at four in the afternoon.. a crazy day yesterday!

“Spidi finished the first leathers today and then tomorrow afternoon arrive the second set.”

While the timing may have come as a surprise, Lecuona knew there was always a slim chance of being needed by HRC in MotoGP at some stage.

“At the end, I have two years’ MotoGP experience - or one and a half with the Covid situation!” he said. “I think everybody knows that my level is quite high and that I [only] moved to Superbike because I didn't have a place.

“I'm very happy with Honda in Superbike. But at the end, we know maybe the chance is still there [in MotoGP]. But the focus is just staying in Superbike.

"The reality is that I'm here because Bradl has a wild-card. So I’m right for Honda. And if HRC tells me to ride, I will ride for sure!

“For me, [Repsol Honda] is the dream team. When I was 13 I broke my leg and spent the summer on the sofa watching Marc winning and now I have the chance to ride his bike.”

Lecuona underlined his talent with a first WorldSBK podium early last season but later dropped to ninth in the standings after missing the last two events due to injury.

The Spaniard is currently ninth in the early 2023 rankings, with a best finish of sixth, and has the full support of his WorldSBK team manager Leon Camier: “He texted me and told me that I deserved it, because we work very hard, and to just enjoy the opportunity.”

While Lecuona must now try and resurrect the unique MotoGP riding style, he will at least have one advantage over the full-time field… experience of Sprint races.

“Of course, it’s a big step, the Pirelli tyres are completely different to Michelin, and the standard brake disk compared to the carbon dics,” Lecuona said. “But I think I won't have a lot of problems.

“I have the experience. I know how it needs to work, just I need a few laps to adjust. Also because it’s a new machine for me, so we will see step by step.

“[The sprint] is one thing that I want to try. I know it's hard with these bikes, but I want to have the sprint race because in Superbike this is my second year and it’s a fun race.

“We'll see Saturday afternoon what I say about the sprint race here. But I think it’s good to change something in MotoGP, honestly.”

“It’s also good to do this in front of all the Spanish fans. It's a very special GP. It's a pleasure to be here."

Lecuona, riding alongside 2020 world champion Joan Mir, will complete his first Repsol Honda MotoGP laps in opening practice on Friday morning. He is currently unsure if he will also be asked to ride at the Monday test.