Bautista has so far had a brilliant pre-season for the Ducati team, and if there’s one rider who looks ready to challenge current WorldSBK champion Toprak Razgatlioglu, it’s him. 

That might be a surprise to some given Jonathan Rea has also looked consistently fast, however, Bautista has so far shown a bit more performance, especially at the more recent Catalunya outing where a near-full grid was in action. 

Had it not been for rain interrupting proceedings on day-two, Bautista would have likely challenged Razgatlioglu for top spot, a position he claimed on day-one. 

Before taking the decision to re-sign with the Italian manufacturer, a deal that came about after the team elected not to keep Scott Redding, Bautista was in the midst of a difficult second season at Honda. 

In fact, both seasons aboard the CBR1000RR-R were totally forgettable for the former MotoGP rider, however, one key element of his time with Honda was the added experience he gained, something he could have desperately used when things got tough in 2019. 

While racing is yet to commence, it’s hard not to see similar signs in terms of outright pace as 2019, and with Bautista now having more experience on Superbike machinery, we could be looking at Bautista being the full package.

Speaking to, new Ducati rider coach Chaz Davies believes his former team-mate is a viable threat to both Razgatlioglu and Rea in 2022.

Davies said: "We have the returning Alvaro, and nobody should forget what he did in 2019. I think we have, from our camp, a really interesting duo to be able to battle with Kawasaki and Yamaha. 

"Speaking about the championship as a whole, and other riders, I think this year it’s going to be much of the same with Alvaro in the mix.

"Jonny and Toprak are going to be the references. I think Toprak’s going to be at least as strong as he was last year, but in racing there are no guarantees. 

"There’s a lot of interest. I think it’s going to be a good championship again. If it’s anything like last year, then we should be in a good position. I really think it’s going to be an exciting year for WorldSBK." 

Who else could star for Ducati in 2022?

Now while Bautista is expected to lead Ducati’s charge, not just from the factory team’s perspective, but overall, is there another rider who could at least challenge for podiums and potentially take points away from Bautista’s rivals. 

Well, Michael Rinaldi would be the obvious choice after winning four races in 2021, but with the Italian continuing to lack pace relative to his team-mate, could two youngsters be options. 

The first of those is Axel Bassani, who was one of the more impressive rookies we’ve seen in years. 

Bassani was the headline name that did not attend the Catalunya test, but the Motocrosa Ducati rider will be in attendance for next month’s official Dorna-run WorldSBK test at Aragon. 

Therefore, measuring his performance and what could be possible from the one-time podium finisher will be important when it comes to analysing whether Bassani can consistently be at the front or not. 

Bassani was also picked out by Davies as someone to watch: "Bassani was really impressive last year. I think he’s a really exciting prospect. 

"He did such a good job last year in a rookie season where nobody, riders nor team managers nor himself probably, expected. He showed he really deserves to be here, and he deserves the support from the manufacturer. 

"I hope he can have a constant trajectory. That’s the important thing, not to expect him to fight for the title but I think if he can continue the same trajectory that he was on last year then that’s all he needs to do."

The other name could be 2022 rookie Philipp Oettl, the man who replaces Davies at GoEleven Ducati. 

The former Moto2 and Moto3 rider has taken no time at all to adjust from WorldSSP to WorldSBK, making him a potential threat in several rounds this season.