Vierge (intermediates) had earlier finished ninth and Nagashima (wets) 19th in the Superpole race, held on a wet but drying track.

The final race of the season then got underway in dry conditions, but Vierge was clipped by Garrett Gerloff on entry to turn 2, sending them both onto the wet grass, where they fell.

“Unfortunately, after making a very good start to Race 2, I was hit by another rider and crashed on the very first lap,” Vierge said. “I jumped back on the bike and pitted because there was a lot of mud, and I couldn’t be sure the handlebar and everything was OK.

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“I then re-joined the race because, after such a tough weekend, it was important to assess my feeling on the bike after making a setup change. Somewhat regrettably, I have to say I felt good on the bike and that we had a good potential. We were able to lap faster than we had all weekend, and so that was the only positive to come out of this race.”

Vierge finished his debut WorldSBK season tenth in the standings, with a best finish of fifth place (Estoril).

“I want to thank my team, HRC and everyone involved for working so hard all season long,” said the former Moto2 racer. “We’ve not yet achieved the results we want and that I believe we deserve, but we’ve learned a lot and gained so much experience and will soon be back on track as we begin our preparations for next season.”

Team-mate and fellow WorldSBK rookie Iker Lecuona was classified ninth in the final standings despite being forced out of Phillip Island due to injury and replaced by HRC test rider Nagashima.

The Japanese, who raced for LCR Honda at last month’s Australian MotoGP, impressed with sixth in Friday practice before suffering two falls on Saturday and tenth in the opening race.

Caught out by the weather in the Superpole sprint, Nagashima then climbed from 17th to 9th by the time race 2 was stopped early due to a nasty accident for Eugene Laverty.

“It was a fun but tough day,” said Nagashima, a former Moto2 race winner. “The Superpole race was a bit disappointing because, having I never tried the intermediate tyres, we opted for the wet spec front and rear and after two or three laps the tyres were already cooked. That’s the law of racing! It was a learning experience anyway.

“Race 2 was not so bad; I was happy enough with my pace but not with my start. I need some more racing practice in that respect, having lost some of that sensitivity. As I’ve said though, our pace was good and my feeling on the bike a bit better than yesterday.

“I’m still curious as to what we might have been able to do with a bit more time and more stable weather. In FP3 for example I crashed while following Jonathan because I hadn’t yet understood the limit of the Pirelli tyres – I have more to learn that’s for sure.

Anyway, overall, this weekend has been a very enjoyable experience and I want to thank Honda and the team for this opportunity. I hope that, with the work done and data I’ve collected, they can keep improving. I look forward to seeing the team do well next year.”

Team HRC will begin its preparations for the 2023 season with testing in mid-December.