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SBK, The secrets of Bulega: how and why is he going so fast with the Ducati V4?

Chief technician Raponi: "In Gresini's time Nicolò was a dull boy, but now he has the mentality of a great guy. In style he doesn't have an excessive pickup like Bautista, but he opens the throttle like few. Bulega has the precision of Dovizioso and the flair of Iannone."

SBK: The secrets of Bulega: how and why is he going so fast with the Ducati V4?

A start to the season above all expectations. Nicolò Bulega is to date the revelation of this Superbike: in fact, in the winter tests he set record times while in Australia he won his debut race in the category by setting pole and fastest lap, among other things.

The Aruba rider is undoubtedly is one of the most pleasant notes for the Italian colors to such an extent that he has conquered the spotlight of the scene. Regarding what the Ducati rider has shown in recent months, we talked about it with the man who has been following him on the track step by step for the past three years.

We are talking about Tommaso Raponi, or rather his chief technician, who in the world of racing boasts a good 30 years of experience, 27 of which he spent in the paddock of the MotoGP. A true ciociaro, humble and simple as well as a great connoisseur of Motorsport. Under him have passed riders of the caliber of Dovizioso and Iannone without forgetting Lowes, Simeon, Borsoi, Rolfo and many others.

With the frusinate technician we shared a long chat, letting him tell us who the reigning SuperSport champion is on the track.

"With Nicolò we worked together in Gresini in the Moto2 days - he recalled - the Bulega of that season was a very different guy compared to the one of today. In fact, I remember him dull and unmotivated, complicit in the problems and difficulties he was going through. Since he arrived in the Superbike paddock, however, I have seen a change on his part. He is probably a reserved guy, but from the point of view of mentality he has changed so much. In fact, I see him strong in the head, confident and motivated, especially when he goes to the track, where he always has the situation under control."

Can we say that SuperSport has relaunched him?
"I think in the last few years he has matured a lot and I consider him a really smart guy. In SuperSport the first year we struggled, because it was a whole new world and to be discovered. Last season, on the other hand, we were able to do a great job, we had an important base to start with, and in the end we brought home the title."

This year he even did better. Did you expect him to be so fast?
"I thought he would be fast in Superbike, but to start so strong I think few would have imagined. Last season we had Superbike tests and I remember the one in Jerez, where he was really fast. I think he is a talented guy and talent you don't forget even if you sometimes go through difficult times in life. I think that in the difficulties he encountered, he was able to find the strength inside to go beyond any obstacle."

Bulega has a different style than Bautista, in fact he is much more smooth. How come he can be so effective on the bike.
"Obviously we are just at the beginning and you have to stay calm. As far as we've seen Nicolò has a less excessive pickup than Alvaro, but in my opinion he's very good in terms of speed on the run, because he opens the throttle like few do with the Panigale. The moment he can take off well, the way he likes to, then he can bring out his strengths, without going to stress the tires too much. I think these are the aspects that play in his favor with the Ducati. Po as I said there is the mental component, which is an intelligent and solid Nicolò of head, able to have the situation under control."

Tommaso, many riders have passed through you: from Iannone to Dovi without forgetting Rolfo, Lowes, Simeon, Borsoi and so many others. Who does Bulega remind you of?
"He reminds me of Dovizioso in the 250 days, which is a very precise rider, able to have the situation under control, and meticulous in his work. At the same time, Iannone also comes to mind because of his talent and his being whimsical. If I had to choose, I would mention these two names."

Bulega is 24 years old, you on the other hand Tommaso 59. What is this meeting of generations like: on one side a rider from Emilia-Romagna, on the other a real Ciociaro?
"Between me and Bulega there are 30 years of difference, we probably won't go for a night together, but in the box we understand each other immediately with a look (smiles). Jokes aside: the most important thing in our relationship is mutual trust inside the box. I try to put all the experience I've gained in the racing world at his disposal, and he's a guy who can listen, who perceives quickly and then puts it into practice. Personally, I am really happy to work alongside Nicolò, because he considers you a reference and as a result the work done is valued. I think we make a good couple (smiles)."

Bulega won in Australia, but his Superbike journey is just beginning. In what does he need to improve?
"Obviously you always have to grow, trying to take a step forward every day. I felt sorry for him on Sunday in Phillip Island, when he fell to the ground in the warmup. He felt that fall, in fact it was not easy. Nicolò is one of those riders who doesn't like to fall at all, so we have to be able to go further."

Automatic Translation by DeepL

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