It was a good start to Bulega’s WorldSBK career as he went P2 on day two of the test, using the SCQ tyre for the first time
Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was one of the stars of testing at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto as he put in a sensational lap on Pirelli’s SCQ tyre to claim second spot on day two of the test, only his second day inside the factory Ducati team and alongside Alvaro Bautista. The #11 does have experience of the Panigale V4 R from tests throughout 2023 but he still put it altogether for a stunning P2 on day two at Jerez during his first days with the team.
Bulega stormed to the top of the timesheets with around two hours to go on day two as one of the first riders to use the SCQ tyre. He set a few laps in the 1’39s bracket before becoming the first rider to hit the 1’38s. He set a 1’38.903s before he improved again in the closing stages to a 1’38.726s, lapping three tenths away from pacesetter Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who overhauled him shortly after Bulega set his lap, and only around a tenth slower than teammate Alvaro Bautista’s pole time from last weekend’s Spanish Round.
It marked a strong start to the 2023 WorldSSP Champion’s time at the factory Ducati team, but these two days were not the first time he’s been on the Panigale V4 R. He’s had several tests with the race bike before, but this was the first time working with Bautista in the box as he got up to speed ahead of his WorldSBK debut in 2024.
Reflecting on his first test with the team, Bulega said: “It was a very good test but unfortunately, we didn’t ride a lot during these two days. On day one, we only did 20 laps and today only half a day. I’m happy because I didn’t ride a lot, but I was already fast. This was important. I’m happy because I was fast, but I was only at 85%. I’m learning the bike, learning how to speak with my new team so it’s important for me to ride a lot of kilometres with this bike.”
In WorldSSP, the softest tyre riders are able to use is the SCX which is also available in WorldSBK. However, unlike WorldSSP, World Superbike riders can use the SCQ tyre when it is in the tyre supplier’s allocation. With the tyre at Jerez, the reigning WorldSSP Champion was able to get his hands on it and try it for the first time. He was full of praise for the work Pirelli do but admitted he still had some work to do to understand that tyre.
Discussing the SCQ tyre, Bulega said: “Honestly, like always, Pirelli are doing an incredible job with the tyres. I tried the SCQ, and I felt good. A bit difficult to understand because with a lot of horsepower, you have to understand the character of the tyre. Anyway, I’m happy because I was fast. We can improve, obviously, but it’s a good starting point.”