Bulega: "Very happy to return Ducati to winning ways… I hope I am the rider to beat"
The Italian claimed his first two WorldSSP victories with a double win Down Under, putting Ducati on the top step of the WorldSSP podium for the first time since 2005
The Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round marked an important milestone for both Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) and Ducati in the FIM Supersport World Championship. At the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Bulega secured his first two WorldSSP victories while it was a return to the top step of the rostrum for Ducati for the first time since 2005. The results mean Bulega and Ducati lead the Riders’ and Manufacturers’ Championships respectively heading into the second round of the season.
Buelga took fourth in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session, only 0.276s down on polesitter Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in what was a closely-fought session. In Race 1, Bulega opted for wet tyres when the race was restarted and he was able to pull away from the chasing pack although he was reeled in by rookie Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing Yamaha) in the closing stages, but Bulega was able to hold on for his first victory in WorldSSP.
The victory also ended Ducati’s win drought which had extended from Imola 2005 when Gianluca Nannelli claimed victory on home soil with the 749 R. Bulega’s victory was the first with the Panigale V2 in WorldSSP while it was also a bit of history made for the Italian manufacturer. For the first time since Brands Hatch in 2000 they won in both WorldSSP and WorldSBK on the same day, when Troy Bayliss and Neil Hodgson won in WorldSBK and Paolo Casoli took victory in WorldSSP.
Bulega would not have to wait long for a second victory, as he won a shortened Race 2 ahead of Manzi and Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). That race was a three-way battle with the lead trio rarely separated by more than a second throughout before the race was red flagged with just a few laps to go due to geese on the track. Bulega leaves Australia with a maximum 50-point haul to his name, 20 points clear of nearest rival Manzi, while Ducati sit 10 points clear of Yamaha in the early part of the season.
Discussing his after Race 2, Bulega said: “What a way to start the season. It’s incredible to win two races in a row, the first two of the Championship. Thanks to the team because they did an incredible job. I will enjoy it and head to Mandalika. It was a very good fight. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it more because I won! It was a very fun race. I hope I am the rider to beat this season.”
On Saturday, he said: “It was the strangest races in all my career! It was very difficult. We did the practice start I think three or four times. The third practice start, I didn’t understand anything. I don’t know why. I chose to use rain tyres and in the end, I think it was the correct choice because I won. Thanks to the team because they didn’t stop working all winter. Very happy to return Ducati to winning ways.”
Watch more incredible WorldSSP action throughout 2023 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!