After spending 17 seasons in grand prix, rising through the ranks from 125cc (2006 world champion) to 250cc (2008 title runner-up) and then MotoGP (3 podiums, fifth in the 2012 world championship), Bautista made a stunning WorldSBK debut with Ducati in 2019, winning the opening 10 races in a row before being caught and passed by Jonathan Rea.

A surprise switch to Honda followed, yielding just three podiums and a best of ninth in the world championship, before a triumphant return to Ducati this season – winning twice at the Aragon season-opener.

Four more victories have been added since and Bautista currently leads Rea by 36-points with eight rounds (and 24 races) remaining. Reigning champion Toprak Razgatlioglu completes the trio of superstar title contenders in third.

Like Bautista, 37, Razgatlioglu will also remain (with Yamaha) in WorldSBK next season, while awaiting a possible factory MotoGP opportunity for 2024. Rea said earlier this month that he is yet to begin talks with Kawasaki.

Fabio Quartararo DID DESERVE a penalty! | 2022 MotoGP

"I am very happy to be able to continue at least one more year with the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Team, which represents a family to me,” Bautista said. “I have always felt good with this team and since I have returned, the feelings have been even more positive than in the 2019 season.

“When something works so well, we can only keep working, looking ahead. I feel I am still at the top, I feel I can still give a lot. Physically and mentally I think this is the best time of my career.

"I am also delighted to continue working with Ducati, a very important factory, tech-oriented, always looking for development: to be part of this project, of this team is something incredible on a personal level."

Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati Corse general manager, said: “We are very happy to be able to continue together with Bautista in 2023.

“As in the 2019 WorldSBK season, this year, Alvaro has been immediately competitive with our bike, starting from the winter tests; he is now leading, not surprisingly, a wonderful season, fighting intelligently for the world title.

“He is a precise rider, easy to work with: his fantastic riding style is not only enjoyable to watch on TV, but above all, it is his key to fully exploiting the potential of our Panigale V4 R. We are convinced that together we can achieve many important goals."

Bautista’s future team-mate is yet to be confirmed with Michele Rinaldi currently sixth in the standings with two podiums.

Rumours suggest former MotoGP race winner Danilo Petrucci, presently competing for Ducati in MotoAmerica, could be among those in contention for the other factory Panigale seat, while some reports state that Rea might also be interested...