What was a painful and disastrous weekend for Iker Lecuona in Mandalika, was one of glory and happiness for Vierge as he concluded an already strong weekend with P3 in the final WorldSBK race of the day.

Able to challenge the front runners for large parts of both feature-length races, Vierge showed the type of form and potential we’ve rarely seen from him and Honda since moving to the series in 2022.

And although it wasn’t a win for the Spaniard, claiming a podium in a WorldSBK field that is arguably the strongest ever this year, not to mention the likes of Alvaro Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea gave little chance for anyone else to claim podiums last season, is a very impressive result.

Winning a race is the obvious next step that Vierge and Honda need to make, whilst adding consistency to those types of results are the only way he can become a significant threat, but Mandalika showed that it’s very possible going forward.

Vierge himself believes he has what it takes to be title contender, although that’s very unlikely in 2023. 

Speaking after Sunday’s result, Vierge said: "I have no words right now! We’ve fought so hard for this since the first day I jumped on the bike, but it hasn’t been easy. 

"It looks like we’ve made a step forward; the reality is that I think we are getting closer, and I hope we can continue working in that direction to always be inside the top six. 

"As a rider, you always need to think that you are the best; if not, you start off already losing. It’s true that in this world, it is easy to lose that if the results aren’t coming. 

"Unfortunately, in my career, there are some really good moments but then followed by really bad moments, and I didn’t understand why. 

"I tried to keep all the experience from all the years to then take the maximum. I think I have the level to fight for the Championship and I will work so hard to do that with Honda."

As mentioned, Vierge’s best weekend in WorldSBK came at the same time as Lecuona enduring a nightmare round two.

Three crashes, two of which took place early on during the weekend, set the former MotoGP rider back as a lack of confidence was evident from that point forward.

"It has not been an easy day and it rounds out what has been a very challenging weekend, but I want to first thank my team because they worked hard to repair the bike after three crashes, and in a very short space of time," added Lecuona. 

"We had ups and downs during every session and in the end, we just weren’t able to put it all together. 

"My congratulations go to the entire team and my team-mate Xavi on scoring his first Superbike podium. Hopefully there will be more to come, for both of us, but for today congratulations to Xavi - this is his day."