LAP RECORD PACE FOR BULEGA: "I hope my rivals are worried… I’m not sure, but I hope so!"

Thursday, 25 January 2024 18:24 GMT

Nicolo Bulega was unbeatable on Day 2 at Jerez, as he was on the opening day, as he went under the lap record time by four tenths

After stealing the spotlight on Day 1 at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, it was more of the same for rookie Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati) on Thursday. He once again topped the times in Spain against the majority of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship but this time he did it by going under the official lap record by a huge four tenths as he became the first, and only, rider to lap in the 1’37s during the test.

After setting a rapid 1’38.292s on Day 1 using the SCQ tyre, Bulega improved that further early into Thursday’s running. In a four-lap stint just before midday local time (GMT+1), the 2023 WorldSSP Champion posted a 1’37.809s to surge into top spot with the first 1’37s of the test. In the same stint, two laps later, he set a 1’38.495s. Bulega’s time remained unbeatable throughout the day as he topped the times for the second consecutive day.

With the lap record set in 2019 by Jonathan Rea, then at Kawasaki, a 1’38.247s, Bulega was more than four tenths clear of this. Talking about his incredible lap and the test as a whole, Bulega said: “It was a solid test. We tried something that I liked. The time attack was very good and the pace was good all day with the race tyres. I’m happy with the work we’ve done during the first test of the year, and we’ll work hard for the next one. The lap time makes me very proud and very happy. The first test was incredible, and I already have a very nice feeling. The lap was obviously not easy to do. When I saw a 1’37.8s on my dash, I was smiling!”

Despite showing strong one-lap pace, and finding improvements with his race pace as he adjusts to the Panigale V4 R, Bulega refused to change his goals as he heads into his maiden season. He comes into the campaign full of confidence after a stunning WorldSSP campaign in 2023, while he was also quick at the Jerez test at the end of last season. He spoke more about what he expects from the season and also whether his rivals should be worried given his speed so far.

“It’s just a test! It doesn’t change anything. I’m still a rookie, I just want to enjoy my first season in WorldSBK,” began Bulega before expanding on what he’ll work on at the Portimao test next week, and talking about his rival. “I think there’s nothing special at Portimao, just to continue on this way and always getting better with my bike. I feel quite ready. Yesterday not too much, but today with the race tyre, I improved a lot and I think we can do well. I hope my rivals are worried! At the moment, I’m not sure, but I hope so!”

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