Alvaro Bautista: Nicolo Bulega ‘had the potential to be the next Valentino Rossi’

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Two-time WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista asserts that Nicolo Bulega was meant to be the next prominent Italian rider following Valentino Rossi.

Alvaro Bautista kicked off his 2024 WorldSBK season a weekend later than anticipated, securing his first WorldSBK victory in the sixth race of the season.

Bautista failed to secure a win at Phillip Island, a first in his Ducati career.

In Race 2 of the Catalunya round, Bautista regained control and outperformed his teammate Nicolo Bulega, who currently leads the championship.

Regarding the championship battle, Bautista shared his thoughts on Bulega’s potential moving forward.

“Well, this illustrates that to contend for a championship, you need not only a good bike but also skilled riders,” Bautista stated to Motosan. “Nicolo [Bulega] arrives after winning the Supersport title and is an incredibly talented rider.

“When a talented rider is given a good motorcycle, they will be quick right from the start.

“When he entered Moto3, he was endorsed by Valentino and was seen as the future promise of Italy; he was destined to be the next Valentino [Rossi].

“However, he encountered challenges, and the reality is that more was anticipated from him. He couldn’t quite find that crucial element.”

“When he transitioned to Supersport, he was immediately fast on the Ducati. So, I believe what Ducati was missing were fast and competitive riders,” Bautista remarked, reiterating his stance on Bulega’s potential as a title contender—a stance that is now proving accurate.

In fact, Bautista sees Bulega as the primary challenger: “I mentioned it last year, that in my opinion, Toprak [Razgatlioglu] would be very quick with the BMW; and that one of the strongest riders this year, the top candidate for the title, would be Nicolo.


“It was crystal clear to me. His work ethic and mentality align with mine. He’s the leading contender for the championship in my view.”

Bulega and Bautista aren’t the only impressive Ducati riders, as Andrea Iannone has also showcased formidable performance in the first two rounds.

Iannone has stood on the podium twice in six races, and while the results have been impressive, it’s his consistency that has pleasantly surprised Bautista.

“I knew he’d be quick, but his consistency in these initial rounds has impressed me because he’s consistently battling at the front,” Bautista remarked.

“Andrea possesses talent; he’s always been quick. Perhaps he struggled a bit with managing situations before. However, I see him as more mature now, much calmer.

“Nevertheless, I think he’s only four years younger than me, so he’s not exactly a spring chicken,” Bautista joked. “He’s a veteran now.”

Stay tuned with We4GP for more news.

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