The WorldSBK Championship heads to Misano for the fifth round of the 2023 season and everyone other than Ducati fans will be wondering 'is this the weekend somebody can beat Ducati again?'
So far in the World Superbike season we have had 12 races across four different rounds. They have taken place in Australia, Indonesia, the Netherlands and Catalunya, next up on the list is Misano.
In these 12 races we have seen a grand total of two different race winners. If you have not been keeping up to date with World Superbike then the situation the Championship currently finds itself in is this, Alvaro Bautista and Ducati have been running away with it all year long.
The way that they are running away with it is like this. In the 12 races that we have seen so far this season Bautista has won 11. The only race he did not win was the Superpole Race in Indonesia, which he crashed out in. This then let Yamaha's Toprak Razgatlioglu take race winning honours.
Other than Bautista Ducati have Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Axel Bassani fighting towards the front as well. Rinaldi has stood on the podium three times in 12 races and is seventh in the Championship. Whereas Bassani has no podiums to his name yet and is fifth in the Championship standings.
Ducati are leading both the Riders and Manufacturers Championship as it stands also. Bautista leads the Riders Championship by 69 points and Ducati lead in the Manufacturers standings by 58 points. So, currently Bautista could sit out all of the Misano round this weekend and still leave as the Championship leader even if Razgatlioglu won all three races!
This season has of course led to a lot of fans getting bored of seeing Bautista win week in and week out, so the real question is when will this era of domination end?
Can the domination end in Ducati's backyard?
The next round is the Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round, the first round in Italy, this means Ducati could be outdone at home.
The bad news for non-Ducati fans is that Bautista goes well around Misano on a Ducati. In the six races that Bautista has raced around Misano on a Ducati he has won three. He has also featured on the podium a further two times.
Last year Bautista and Ducati won Race One and Race Two and then finished second in the Superpole Race. Where the Spaniard has been fast at every other circuit this year we likely will see him at the front again this weekend.
However, there does seem to be one rider who can beat Bautista and end the Ducati party this weekend. This happens to be the only man who is yet to beat him in 2023, Razgatlioglu!
Can Razgatlioglu beat Bautista and Ducati in Misano?
Last year when the Yamaha was working well Razgatlioglu took the fight to Bautista at Misano. It also looks like Razgatlioglu can do it again this year.
The recent Misano test showed everyone that the riders likely to fight for victory will be Bautista and Razgatlioglu.
Bautista is one of those riders who will be fighting for wins at every race this year, so it should not be surprising that his pace at the Misano test was fast yet again.
However, the surprise package was Razgatlioglu. At the Misano test the 2021 WorldSBK Champion made a breakthrough and was on the same pace as Bautista. After the test Razgatlioglu even said: "My race simulation was unbelievable… I’m ready to fight for the win."
This weekend could definitely be one of the few occasions this season that we do not see Bautista on the top step of the podium after all three races. But unless something major happens in the next few weeks it looks like over the whole season Bautista will continue to dominate thee Championship.