Double Ducati podium… but is there more to come from Bulega and Bautista on Sunday?

Ducati were able to celebrate a double podium in Race 1 for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati) claiming second place and teammate Alvaro Bautista in third. Despite the two podium finishes, both riders were left with a ‘what might have been’ feeling for different reasons at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”, after they were beaten by Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team).

The #54 started from pole position for the Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round but lost out at the start after Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) got a mega start from P3 on the grid, leading in the early stages before the 2021 Champion was able to pass him. Bautista also got a good start, moving up from fifth on the grid to move into second, while teammate Bulega moved back after a poor start.

However, Bulega, despite running wide, had better pace than his Champion teammate, and made light work of Gardner with both Aruba Ducatis passing the #87 in a few seconds, before overtaking his teammate in the first sector on Lap 8. From there, Bautista was unable to challenge his rookie teammate, although the gap was just 1.4 seconds at the end of the 21-lap race. Speaking after, both revealed different issue they had that might have potentially cost them a better result.

When asked when a poor start might have cost him victory, Bulega replied: “Unfortunately, my start was not so good and then I had to overtake some riders, so I lost a lot of time. When I overtook the other riders and I got into second, my pace was good. I also had a little bit of belief that I could overtake Toprak, but it was too late. He never gave up. He had a fantastic race. It’s my first race in Italy in WorldSBK, with a podium and almost pole position this morning, so if the weekend is going well. In the beginning, I lost a lot of time. I was much faster, but it was impossible to overtake. You can never know how the race will go.”

For Bautista, a good start helped the #1 fight at the front, but he was unable to keep second place from his teammate. Bulega hounded the reigning Champion before getting past him at Turns 4 and 5, before pulling out a gap over Bautista. The 61-time race winner did close some time back to the #11 towards the race’s conclusion, but he had to settle for third place; his eighth podium in 10 races this season.

Explaining why he was unable to fight for victory, Bautista said: “Conditions are different every year and the level of the category is really high. We worked to get a good feeling with the bike but it’s still not as we wanted. Today, with the really hot conditions, I struggled to stop the bike especially on the front tyre. In the first few laps, I couldn’t push really hard because every time I tried to force the front, I lost it, and I had many slides in a lot of corners. It was really difficult. The only thing I could do was try to get to the end and get the maximum I can. After mid-race, the pace was similar to the leader and the guys in front, but the problem was I was over the limit. I tried to push more, lost the front and I nearly crashed 10 or 12 times! The only thing was to finish the race, try to get more information and some references for tomorrow.”

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