Just when you thought he couldn’t make more headlines, reigning WorldSSP Champion Nicolo Bulega is turning into a dark horse
It was nearly a clean sweep in January testing but in the end, he was toppled; Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) had to settle for second as the WorldSBK rookie finished two hard days of testing at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. The #11, a revelation in testing, was once again top Ducati for the third test in a row, whilst teammate Alvaro Bautista could only manage P15 as he struggled to make an impact for the second consecutive test.
Bulega was the only rider in the 1’39s on the opening day and was the first rider to dip under the lap record with a 1’39.275 on lap 24 of 61 completed. The time was reported to be done with an SCQ tyre, which did ultimately leave him 0.086s adrift of top rider Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). However, despite not topping the final timesheets before the Official Test in Australia, Bulega was happy with the days work as he and Ducati continue to learn more about each other and where to go from here.
BULEGA SUMS UP PRESEASON: “I think it’s been very good”
Talking at the end of the day, ‘Bulegas’ was pleased with the job done: “It was a very good day; my feeling with the bike is nice. Obviously, I need to adapt as I’m not at 100% but it’s normal. We’re working very well all together. I’ll go to Australia with good positivity. The lap was with the SCQ but with the SCX, I was very fast so apart from lap times – which are important but not a lot – I am happy because my race pace was good.”
Evaluating his preseason testing, Bulega continued: “I think it has been very good; we started at Jerez with a normal feeling but every day, my feeling was getting better, so this is very important and I think we have some margin. We’ll try to be more ready in Australia. It’s a little bit better than expected. I don’t have a lot of things to do; more time on the bike, do more laps and understand the bike better with worn tyres and low fuel. I am excited and looking forward to Australia with this amazing bike, as Phillip Island is my favourite circuit.”
ZAMBENEDETTI ON BULEGA: “Races will be a different story”, title contender “for sure”
Speaking during the middle of the day, Marco Zambenedetti – Ducati Corse’s WorldSBK Technical Director – praised the Italian youngster, saying: “Nicolo is only understanding and learning the bike with his crew. We’re happy about his performance but for sure races will be different story. However, we have the pace.” When asked whether Bulega was a contender or not, a wry smile with a stern look was followed by: “For sure.”
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