Despite impressive pace from its Ducati riders, namely Nicolo Bulega during a recent Portimao test, Serafino Foti, Ducati’s WorldSBK Team Manager, believes Yamaha remain the favourites heading into the 2022 WorldSSP season. 

New regulations for the 2022 season have seen Ducati make their return to the intermediate class for the first time since 2006, while Triumph are another to make their return after ten years away. 

During the 2021 season, WorldSSP announced an increase in power displacement would take place in order to allow for more manufacturers to join the class.  

A series which has largely been dominated by Yamaha in recent seasons, Ducati could be the Japanese manufacturer’s biggest opposition based on the level of performance shown so far, albeit it remains very early to say as the season is still a month away from getting underway.  

Former Moto2 rider Bulega was part of a recent two day test at Portimao which saw him break Jules Cluzel’s 2021 lap record by over nine tenths of a second. 

But despite Ducati’s impressive pace thus far, Foti is convinced Yamaha remain the favourites. 

Speaking to GPone.com regarding speculation that Ducati have a superior advantage due to their officially homologated Panigale 955cc machine, the Italian said: "I don’t think so. I am of the opinion that the V2 will not dominate WorldSSP and there are several reasons. First of all we are back in the championship after more than 15 years. 

"The last Ducati used was the 749 in 2006. Now there is the V2, which is a new bike and we're starting from scratch. 

"With Yamaha we also have an opponent who has a lot of experience. They have top riders like Aegerter, Cluzel and Baldassarri, who impressed with strong times in Jerez. 

"I really don't think we're seeing races where Ducati is 15 seconds ahead of everyone else's bikes."