Prior to re-joining Ducati and going on to beat Toprak Razgatlioglu to the WorldSBK title, Bautista endured two nightmare seasons with Honda.

The Spaniard’s time with Honda yielded just three podium finishes from 61 races, a total he matched during the opening three races of 2022, which included a double victory at Aragon. 

Bautista would go on to finish all-but five of the 36 races on the podium in what was his second season with Ducati in WorldSBK, first since 2019. 

Given his results and dominating championship win last season, it’s no surprise that the rider who replaced him at Honda feels Bautista and Ducati are a perfect match.

Lecuona said: "We can see that the performance from Alvaro was unbelievable with Ducati. I think that this package is the best in the championship at this time. 

"He won many races, not easily, but with some calm - not like Toprak or Johnny that needed to fight a lot with the bike. 

"I think the package of Ducati and Alvaro was perfect. I joked about this during the year many times with Alvaro and he always told me the same - he told me every time is easier for him to ride with the Ducati. He feels good with the Ducati and the Ducati feels good with him."

That was certainly not the case for Bautista at Honda, as both he and Leon Haslam found it difficult to break into the top five.

While Lecuona and Xavi Vierge also found breaking into the top five a challenge for much of the season, there were visible improvements from the Japanese manufacturer, while both rookies seemed to adapt to WorldSBK and the Fireblade with ease. 

"This Honda, we need to develop more for sure," continued Lecuona. "During the year, my team-mate Xavi and I improved a lot the bike. 

"The bike made some steps for sure, but not the step that we need to fight for a victory. We need some time but it is coming, 100 percent. 

"Alvaro, with the Honda, struggled a lot. Alvaro’s style is not to fight with the bike. 

"We saw many crashes with Xavi and me, many saves but also many movements during the races. Honda bikes - you need to fight with the bike to go fast." 

While it was a strong season for Lecuona and Vierge, Honda narrowly lost out to BMW in the manufacturers standings, after the former missed the final few races due to injury.

But with both riders heading into their second season in 2023 and with a Honda bike that is expected to make significant improvements once again, challenging for podiums with regularity can’t be discounted.