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Ducati hands Bulega works World Superbike seat for 2024

Ducati has announced that Nicolo Bulega will join its factory World Superbike team for 2024, replacing Michael Ruben Rinaldi.

Nicolo Bulega

As previously reported by Motorsport.com, ex-Moto2 racer Bulega will make the step up to WSBK from World Supersport, where he currently leads the standings riding a factory-run Ducati Panigale V2.

The 23-year-old Italian will partner reigning champion Alvaro Bautista, who earlier this season extended his agreement with Ducati to cover the 2024 campaign.

Bulega is known to have impressed Ducati in his test outings aboard the V4 R Superbike, earning himself a direct call-up to the factory squad in the process.

Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna said: "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 the WorldSBK Championship, and sharing the garage with Alvaro Bautista will only help him grow."

Bulega made the switch to World Supersport last year, finishing fourth in the standings, and has won nine of the 16 races to have been held so far in 2023.

 

He holds a 46-point advantage over his nearest rival, compatriot and fellow Moto2 convert Stefano Manzi, with four rounds left.

"This is a dream coming true," commented Bulega. "Racing for an official [factory] 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.

"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.”

Rinaldi's destination for 2024 remains unclear. He had been linked to a possible move to Honda, potentially as a replacement for Iker Lecuona, but such a switch would depend on Lecuona being moved across by the marque to MotoGP.

Should that prove impossible, a satellite Ducati ride would appear to be Rinaldi's most likely option to remain on the grid.

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