Nicolo Bulega will take Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s seat at Ducati Aruba.it team alongside WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista for the 2024 season.
With the acquisition of Bulega, Ducati has also revealed their plans for their factory team following the shocking news that Jonathan Rea will be leaving Kawasaki and join Yamaha for the upcoming season.
Following his announcement to move up from the WorldSSP team, Nicolo Bulega will join the factory Ducati WorldSBK squad in 2024. Next year, Bulega will be racing for the Aruba.it Ducati team replacing Michael Ruben Rinaldi.
Bulega, who is currently leading the WorldSSP series, has been incredibly impressive so far in the 2024 season and, as a result, had long been considered the favorite to replace Rinaldi.
Bulega and Ducati have had an impressive season with nine race victories and 13 podium finishes before the summer break. And now with only four rounds remaining, Bulega is 46 points ahead of Stefano Manzi in the rankings.
“I want to be honest: this is a dream coming true,” Bulega said. “Racing for an official team is the desire of every rider.
“Therefore, before I talk about my emotions and expectations, I want to thank Ducati and Aruba.it Racing.
The 23-year-old initially signed with Ducati to race the Ducati Panigale V2 at the start of the 2022 WorldSSP season. Nicolo Bulega came in at number four overall, with his highest finishes being second at Most and Phillip Island.
“I am also extremely grateful for the opportunity I was given already last season by Aruba.it and Feel Racing and especially by Stefano Cecconi, Serafino Foti and Daniele Casolari,” he added.
“They chose me to ride a fantastic Ducati Panigale V2, on which I felt immediately comfortable.
“I know how important this opportunity is and I will always give my best to improve myself, day after day, with the only goal of getting the best possible results.
“I say it again: thank you for the trust. Thinking about the history of this Team, where great champions have always raced, I feel proud to be able to defend the same colours.
“Also, I am very happy to be able to share the box with Alvaro Bautista. Having him as a teammate will be a big plus: I will try to absorb every information I can learn from him.”
Bulega journeyed for seven seasons in the Grand Prix paddock before switching to the WorldSBK championship. His best Grand Prix season was in 2016, when he raced for the VR46 team and finished seventh in the Moto3 standings. In his debut full season in the class, his second-place finish at Jerez was his best performance of the year.
“We are pleased to welcome Nicolo Bulega to the official Superbike team,” added Dall’igna. “Since last season, Nicolo has been able to give us immense delight.
“He is a very talented rider, and his experience, despite his young age, could be a determining factor in facing this fascinating and demanding challenge.
“During the test held with the Ducati Panigale V4 R machine, he has shown that he has the potential to compete with the best riders in WorldSBK, and sharing the garage with Alvaro Bautista will only help him grow.
“However, it will be important for him to stay focused on his WorldSSP season. The Aruba.it Racing team had the merit last year to think about Bulega and involve him in a completely new project that Ducati cares so much about.
“We hope he can wrap up his last season in Supersport in the best possible way.”
The only Ducati-run teams left to reveal their future plans are Barni, Motocorsa, and GoEleven as Rinaldi is now expected to entirely walk away from the manufacturer. Danilo Petrucci is anticipated to remain at Barni, as is Axel Bassani at Motocorsa, while Andrea Iannone is anticipated to join GoEleven.