DUCATI DELIGHT: Bautista “feeling like I am back again”, Bulega “improved a little bit” on starts after clutch changes

Both Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and teammate Nicolo Bulega were rapid on Day 1 of the Supported Test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the #1 finishing third and the #11 taking top spot. It continued a strong start to the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign for the Ducati team, after Bulega’s Race 1 win in Australia and Bautista’s second place in Race 2 and neither could hide their delight following the test day.

Bautista had been lurking inside the top ten for most of the day, but he surged up the order in the final 30 minutes, initially moving into second before being overhauled by Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). However, despite finishing behind his teammate, the reigning Champion was more than happy with how his day went, declaring that he had “no problem” riding the bike after an injury-stricken winter left him unable to train properly.

A jubilant Bautista said after completing more than 100 laps and posting a 1’41.029s: “Now, I am happy because I am feeling like I am back again. After the Australian Round, I was quite confident and, today, I started like a bit awkward but then I felt good on the bike. I can say I don’t have problems riding the bike. We didn’t make a lot of changes because, for me, it’s important to get the feeling with the bike. The bike is basically the same as last year. A bit more weight but basically the bike didn’t change. It’s important to get the feeling, get used to the new weight of the bike and see in which areas we can push more or less.”

On the other side of the box, the #11 was one of the first riders to lap in the 1’41s bracket on Day 1 of the Supported Test, before improving to a 1’40.305s and completing 72 laps. His best time came on his 67th lap as he went provisionally went more than a second clear, but his rivals halved the gap. It means Bulega has now topped test days at all of his WorldSBK tests, starting from the first one at Jerez last year to the most recent.

Explaining his programme for the day and his remarkable pace to leave him almost half-a-second clear, Bulega said: “It’s not a bad feeling to be P1! I know it’s just a test, but it gives me a lot of confidence to be P1 but also if I was P2; I’m fast, so it’s good. I used the SCQ, I think like everybody. I used it like Alvaro, Toprak and a lot of guys. I tried the new Pirelli C900 tyre, and I liked it; I think it can be a good choice for the round. All the tyres I tried today, I had a good feeling. We concentrated a lot on the clutch because, in Australia, my three starts were bad. We tried something new on the clutch to start better. I improved a little bit, so I’m happy, but when you are in the races, it’s more difficult.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

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