The 2022 WorldSBK rookie made a relatively slow start during Friday’s action after finishing outside the top ten, however, Iker Lecuona was immediately on the pace come the start of day-two. 

Despite grip being very low around the Barcelona-based circuit - traditionally a problem at this time of year - the first hour of track action saw Lecuona already improve by over five tenths compared to his day-one effort, before continuing to improve his lap times in order to challenge Alvaro Bautista for top spot. 

Challenge the new Ducati rider is exactly what he did, as the 22 year-old claimed top spot during the first hour of running ahead of playing second best to the 2019 championship runner-up at the end of hour #2. 

Even though Toprak Razgatlioglu lowered the benchmark time by another four tenths and rain fell shortly afterwards - no one else could improve throughout the day - it’s hard to argue that Lecuona did not claim third place on merit, begging the question are Team HRC in with a real shout of challenging for podiums and perhaps more this season. 

Although it’s just one test, Lecuona has adapted very quickly to Superbike machinery, something that wasn’t necessarily the case in MotoGP.

Add to that Honda’s apparent steps forward and we could see a fourth manufacturer challenge the likes of Kawasaki, Ducati and Yamaha which is long overdue.

"It was very positive, for sure. I finished third in the morning in dry conditions. Day by day I feel better with the bike, more comfortable. I can ride with my style," Lecuona told 

"In general, I am very happy in dry conditions. In wet conditions, it was a bit more difficult as it was my first time riding with the Pirelli tyres, the bike and also the team’s first time riding with Showa suspension in the wet. 

"We need to work harder, for sure. We are happy. It’s special to finish in third with everybody on track. 

"We showed the speed and the level to fight for a top position. When I arrive in Aragon, we will see what happens. For sure, it will change the position a little, but the important thing is we can go fast and it’s very important for me and the team."

While no one is expecting Lecuona to mount a title challenge in his first season, signs are there that Honda, who haven’t won a WorldSBK title since 2002 with Colin Edwards, are very much on the right track.