The conviction that Niccolò Bulega, in his debut year in Moto3, could fight for the positions that count was shared by many people, inside and outside the paddock. This was also fuelled by the fact that “Bulegas” was arriving as the CEV Moto3 champion, the closest category in terms of competition to the MotoGP world championship and known for this reason as the “Junior World Championship”. And the young rider, class of '99, certainly lived up to expectations, demonstrating a lot more on track than his two podiums might represent.
Nicolò, a season to remember for many reasons...
“It was a fantastic year, with many exciting moments. I've achieved a lot, more than I expected. A pity about the last races though, in which I was pretty much always knocked out. To finish in seventh place overall in my first year, despite six zeros, some of which weren't my fault, is definitely a positive result."
How are you physically after those last battles?
“I haven't fully recovered yet (from shoulder and knee contusions suffered at Sepang), let's say I'm at 85-90%, particularly with my shoulder. I'll definitely be ready for the first race, considering the time I still have available”.
Back to 2016, the only things you didn't achieve were a win and the Rookie of the Year title.
“Yes, and the latter was my last goal, but that's how it went and I can't have too many regrets. It would have been great to achieve that title, but it wasn't essential."
What has this first year in the world championship taught you?
“Firstly, that there's no room for error, because if you make a mistake you have to give 150% to make up for it. As a result, I've learned that you always have to fully concentrate, to avoid making even the slightest of errors”.
Your positive performance was soon recognised by the team, who renewed youe contract after just seven GPs.
“Yes and I was very pleased about that. Racing for the Sky team is an honour, it's one of the top teams in Moto3, and so I'll be able to give y all, as ever”.
Will you be aiming to score the team's first title in 2017?
“I don't know because there are many riders who are more experienced than me and who will, as a result, be able to fight harder than me for the title. I'll try my hardest of course, but realistically my aim is to be consistently inside the top five".
Speaking of more expert riders, one of those is perhaps Fenati, with whom you had a less than perfect opener at Qatar…
“We had a tiff in Qatar that's true, but we got on for the rest of the season and I can honestly say he's a good guy. He'll be wanting to redeem himself, so he may well be even more battle-ready than me, but I realise this”.
Your physical shape is perhaps more suited to Moto2 than Moto3. Are you in a hurry to win so that you can change category?
“The Moto3 is small for me, it's true, and I'm less aerodynamic than others, with my shoulders and weighing more. It's a disadvantage but I deal with it without too much trouble, so for now I'm only focused on the Moto3 and doing my best next year”.