Alvaro Bautista backed up his first WorldSBK title with an even more dominant display in 2023. 

The factory Ducati rider won 27 races, ten more than the previous record for a single season which was set by Jonathan Rea in both 2019 and 2018, along with Doug Polen who achieved 17 wins in 1991.

Next best was Toprak Razgatlioglu on six, showing just how dominant Bautista was throughout the campaign. 

But what are the biggest storylines heading into 2023 as Bautista looks to make it a hat-trick?

Can Razgatlioglu take BMW to title contention?

BMW’s hopes of becoming a title threat with the addition of Scott Redding in 2022 have simply not worked out.

In fact, BMW, outside of some impressive performances at individual rounds, have largely remained behind Ducati, Kawasaki and Yamaha.

Redding and Michael Van Der Mark are both more than capable of challenging for race wins, but the machinery has to be right, which it has not.

That said, their bike does have very strong points and to their credit, they haven’t had one of the top three riders on their bike as of yet.

That however will all change next season as arguably the best rider in Superbikes is hoping aboard the M 1000 RR.

Razgatlioglu has incredible talent, the likes we’ve never seen before when it comes to certain aspects of riding a motorcycle.

Time will be needed, and it’s likely that a title challenge will have to wait until 2025, but if there’s one rider who could change that then it’s Razgatlioglu. 

What should we expect from Andrea Iannone

Back from his four-year ban and ready to make noise on the world stage once again, Iannone will have plenty of eyes placed upon him in 2024.

The Italian, who is also an incredible talent, won’t be expected to do more than just find his feet during the opening couple of rounds.

But beyond that, challenging for big points and podiums could and perhaps should be a realistic aim.

Danilo Petrucci and Dominique Aegerter both scored podiums as rookies this past season, so Iannone would do well to replicate that type of potential.

That said, Iannone is also on a Ducati (as is Petrucci) and together with his ability, the former MotoGP rider could even be a threat for race wins if he adapts to the class like many believe he can.

Is Rea set to be Bautista’s main challenge?

If Razgatlioglu and BMW don’t hit the ground running, Rea could be the rider to sustain a serious title challenge after switching Kawasaki for Yamaha.

The six-time world champion has already been in top form during his two tests with the Japanese brand.

More adaptation will be needed of course, but the early signs point toward Rea and the R1 being a good match. 

What to expect from Nicolo Bulega and can he push Bautista further than Michael Ruben Rinaldi? Ducati made a big decision to replace Rinaldi with the current WorldSSP champion.

Rinaldi once again proved his worth this season as he became the only rider outside of Bautista, Razgatlioglu and Rea to win a race.

But Bulega is a big talent and Ducati’s viewpoint is that they wanted the strongest possible team-mate to Bautista.

Whether that will be Bulega is yet to be determined, but the Italian was impressive at his first official WorldSBK test.

Challenging for podiums will be the requirement from Ducati, not beating Bautista, however, every rider wants to one-up their team-mate, and who better than the world champion to do that against.