No prizes of any kind for understanding that Alvaro Bautista and his official Ducati were the big winners after the weekend at WorldSBK Misano.
His two feature race victories and then being second behind Razgatlioglu - by far his least threatening genuine championship rival so far - in the Superpole race meant that Alvaro left with not only a perfect finishing record in the first 12 individual races of the year, but a perfect podium record as well. 12 from. He now has six wins, Rea 5 and Razgatlioglu his single one.
In 2019 Bautista looked like Ducati’s WorldSBK Messiah, but after a mid-season collapse both he and his team ended up in the roles of naughty boys and girls. This year, so far, just feels different.
Maybe the most significant thing to take away from the Misano weekend - and we will find out i Most (which will mark the halfway point of 2022) if this is really the case is that Bautista is now 36 points ahead of Rea. Now, in 2019, he was at one stage 61 points clear of Rea, then lost it all. He went from beating Rea by 15 seconds, 20 - vast amounts of time in WorldSBK terms - but still lost the championship.
Bautista is only just over half as secure in points margin as he ever got in 2019, and Rea has been keen to point out that even when getting beaten by Bautista in 2022 it is not by the thumping margin in each race like it was before. But in Misano Race Two the margin from Bautista’s winning pace to Rea’s fourth place was nearly 15 seconds.
Absolutely nothing whatever is certain this year, of course. It is only 36 points, and Rea has already lost 25 or 20 to Bautista when he and Toprak clashed and crashed at Assen. So the - nett of Assen losses - potential points gap from Bau Bau to Rea is really only 11 or 16, or similar - in terms of on track showings.
But in the real world the leading gap grew at Misano, and Rea had his first properly big deficit in race time.
Back to Misano on Sunday night and the former MotoGP man said, “I’m so happy. I am in a moment that every small change we do on the bike I feel a lot. Even if it’s nothing, but I feel if it’s positive or negative. Because this morning thinking about the Superpole race, we thought, maybe we can push more, less full tank.
"We made a small adjustment in the suspension just to make it more safe if I want to push more, but I felt it was worse. I missed the good feeling I had yesterday this morning in the Superpole race. I fight with Jonathan and I lose a lot, and especially my feeling with the bike was not the best, so in the afternoon we came back with the setup and again I felt good feeling.
"So, I’m happy for that. Also because I feel strong on the bike. I feel it’s safe. I feel very sure about me, about the bike. I feel everything very well. So, I’m happy because this weekend, apart of the results, I think I improved my feeling with the bike.”