After their most successful year in world championship racing, Ducati look to be the clear favourites in MotoGP, while reigning WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista has already won five out of six races. 

In pre-season testing, Ducati showed an even greater side to their dominance from last season in MotoGP, as Luca Marini topped both the Valencia and Sepang tests.

In WorldSBK, Bautista was quickest in Portimao before going on to claim top spot in the two-day Phillip Island test.

Since then, the Spaniard has been unbeatable aside from his Superpole Race crash in Mandalika which cost him the chance to keep up his 100%% win record in 2023.

Of course, in MotoGP Ducati have the talent to go along with a significantly greater level of participation numbers, as eight bikes compared to four from Honda, Aprilia and KTM gave them a clear advantage last season, and should do so again.

But in WorldSBK, Ducati don’t have the highest participation numbers, yet their performance is beginning to be unrivalled.

Take Bautista out of the equation and another Ducati could have won half the races that have taken place so far this season. 

Michael Ruben Rinaldi, rookie Danilo Petrucci, Axel Bassani and Philipp Oettl have all had impressive performances, while the consistent pace shown by several of those riders has been a big step forward compared to this time last season. 

In MotoGP, Francesco Bagnaia is the favourite heading into the season, but there’s an argument to be made that Enea Bastianini and Jorge Martin are next on the list. 

That’s with the likes of Marc Marquez, Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales being in the championship.

And while we’ve seen electric performances from Marquez and Quartararo more often than not in their premier class career, fighting Ducati for a whole season appears to be a difficult task. 

Just ask Toprak Razgatlioglu, who after six races is already talking about how difficult it’s become to challenge Ducati. 

"Easy for Ducati!" said the Pata Yamaha rider after Race 2 in Mandalika. "Ducati passes easy on the straights. This is a big advantage. I try to go on the corner to pass him but I eat the tyre and it’s a very easy pass on the straight because the bike is very fast. He is also a strong rider I know, but he has a very good package."

All Ducati riders strong, but Bautista making the difference in WorldSBK

Rinaldi has been one of the big revelations in terms of speed in 2023, and although his results still lack consistency, there’s a case to be made for him being the second fastest rider on average. 

But what was again clear in Mandalika is that Bautista has the measure of his opponents, whether they are Ducati riders or not. 

Talking about Race 2 and closing down Rinaldi before taking victory, but also his overall competitiveness in 2023, Bautista said: "We were very strong in Australia, also here, the last year we struggled but the confidence, the feeling I have with the bike is the most important thing. 

"If we can keep this feeling for the next races then we can be competitive and fight for victories. When I arrived to him [Rinaldi] I was basically stronger in all the areas. I just did a couple of laps behind him to be sure of the place I can pass him without problems. 

"The second sector - the right corners - I was a bit faster than him so I just tried to prepare to pass him at turn ten because for me it was the safest place."