Although Nicolo Bulega’s (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) crowning moment was delayed by at least a week at the Tissot Aragon Round, the #11 is still in pole position to take the 2023 FIM Supersport World Championship title after a stunning double at MotorLand Aragon. Bulega was unbeatable in the Tissot Superpole session as he smashed the existing lap record before converting that into two victories to strengthen his grip on the trophy.
Bulega started the weekend by topping Friday’s combined classification ahead of compatriots Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) and Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), and he translated this into a record-breaking pole position. His time was a 1’52.306s as he claimed pole by a huge seven tenths, with Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) and Caricasulo joining him on the front row. Manzi was P5 but promoted to P4 on the Race 1 grid following a penalty for Marcel Scrhoetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse). The Champion-elect’s time was exactly four tenths quicker than the existing pole lap record.
In Race 1, Bulega got the holeshot and immediately stormed clear of his rivals. He was more than seven tenths clear at the end of the opening lap and that gap increased to 3.099s by Lap 5. From there, the Ducati star was able to manage his race to take victory, his 12th of the season, before repeating It in Race 2 for win 13 of the year and his fifth double. Manzi made a last-lap error which dropped him to P11 in Race 1, putting the Ducati rider on course for a first title. In Sunday’s encounter, Bulega was 1.3s clear after Lap 1 and 2.8s after Lap 5. Although the gap did close in the latter stages of the red-flagged race, the Italian added another five points to his Championship lead with Manzi in second.
Discussing his weekend, Bulega said: “It was an amazing weekend. It was incredible because my feeling with the bike was very good from the first lap. I could push when I wanted. I enjoyed it a lot and I started to think about the Championship, but at the same time, I only want to think about the races and the next win.”
Bulega heads into the Portuguese Round with an 85-point margin over rival Manzi and will be crowned Champion in Race 1 if he loses ten points or fewer to his compatriot. The ball is firmly in Bulega’s court to get the title wrapped up in the penultimate round of the season, with the 2024 factory WorldSBK factory Ducati rider aiming to race alongside Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) next year as a World Champion.
Explaining his approach to Portimao, the 23-year-old said: “I think I will do the same as always. I’ll try to work for the race from FP1 and try to be fast in every session. If I’m able to win the race and the title, it’ll be perfect. It can be in the next race but, like I said, I want to stay focused on the races and then, if it’ll be the time for the title, it’ll be even better.”
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