The Italian made history as he wrapped up this year’s Championship in style at MotorLand Aragon to be crowned World Champion before his move to WorldSBK
Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Ducati WorldSSP Team) has been crowned the 2023 Champion and the Italian takes the honours of being Ducati’s first title winner in the FIM Supersport World Championship. Bulega made his debut last season and, while he did not stand on the top step of the rostrum, showed his potential with plenty of podiums and a big step forward was made this season as he claimed the title in stunning fashion.
GET TO KNOW: all about the latest Champion…
23-year-old Bulega was born in Emilia-Romagna and is the son of former WorldSSP rider Davide Bulega, who competed between 1999 and 2001. He rose through the ranks and made a name for himself in Moto3™ and Moto2™ before two seasons in WorldSSP from 2022 where he was crowned Champion. Speaking to the Official Programme for the Indonesian Round, Bulega described his heroes as Valentino Rossi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic while he races with the #11 as it’s the same number that his dad raced with.
THE EARLY YEARS: a 2015 title and promotion to the World Championship
After showing his potential in Italy and across Europe, Bulega stepped up to what was then the FIM CEV Moto3™ Junior World Championship in 2014 and finished sixth in the standings. He returned for a second year and won the title ahead of Grand Prix stars Albert Arenas, Aron Canet and 2020 MotoGP™ World Champion Joan Mir. Bulega took one win that season, at Jerez, compared to Arenas’ three but his consistency helped him to the title with the Italian only outside the top five on two occasions out of 12 races, with this characteristic echoed in 2023. On the back of his success, Bulega took part in the 2015 Valencian Grand Prix with the Sky Racing Team VR46, scoring four points on debut.
PODIUMS IN Moto3™: Bulega’s potential on display
He remained with the same team for 2016, his first full season in Moto3™, and got off to a stunning start. Sixth in Qatar was followed up with second at Jerez in Round 4, and a consistent run of top-ten finishes followed. He took third at the Japanese Grand Prix but 2017 proved to be more challenging with no podiums, on his way to 12th with 81 points. His final year in the lightweight class was marred by retirements with Bulega not scoring points until Assen, the eighth race of the season.
A THREE-YEAR STINT: a move to Moto2™ beckons
It took until just his fourth Moto2™ race in 2019 to score his first points, with ninth at Jerez, and he followed that up with tenth at Le Mans. He finished the campaign with 48 points with a best finish of seventh at Brno; it would turn out to be his best Moto2™ campaign in three years. He was 20th with 32 points and 26th with 12 points in 2021 in what proved to be his final Moto2™ campaign before a switch to WorldSSP for the 2022 campaign, coinciding with the return of Ducati to World Supersport as he linked up with the Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team. It would prove to relight his career path.
THE WORLD SUPERSPORT SWITCH: a podium contender from the start
Bulega’s first WorldSSP round came at Aragon in 2022 and he was immediately on the pace with fifth in Race 1 and a maiden podium in Race 2. Nine visits to the rostrum came that year for the #11 but a first win eluded him as Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) diced for the title. He finished his rookie year fourth in the standings, 22 points behind Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in third.
A TITLE-WINNING CAMPAIGN: a multiple race winner and a consistent season
With the Ducati Panigale V2 now in its second WorldSSP season, refinements were made and the year of experience Bulega put in his pocket allowed him to take the next step as he became a race winner. Victory came at Phillip Island, with a double, at the opening round of the season before a podium in Indonesia. Another double at Assen, plus victories at Barcelona and Misano despite the best efforts of title rival Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) put him in pole position for the title. The Ducati star was able to keep winning with more visits to the top step at Donington, Most and Magny-Cours, allowing him to pull out a 60-point lead heading into the Aragon Round. A double at Aragon extended his lead to 85 points, with Manzi P11 and P2, but it wasn’t enough to win the title and the fight lasted one more round. With Bulega needing to leave Portimao Race 1 with a 75-point advantage over Manzi, he wrapped up the 2023 title in style on Saturday with victory; becoming Ducati’s first Champion in WorldSSP.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? A factory Ducati seat guaranteed…
Bulega’s future was known before the title was wrapped up. For next year, the Italian will partner Alvaro Bautista at the factory Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team, replacing Michael Ruben Rinaldi. He follows in the footsteps of 2020 Champion Andrea Locatelli, who moved straight into the factory Yamaha seat and has been a regular top-six finisher, and two-time Champion Dominique Aegerter who moved to WorldSBK for 2023 after his second title.
Congratulate Bulega on his title success using the #Bu1eGAS and watch the final part of 2023 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!