Nicolo Bulega is to leave both the VR46 Riders Academy and Sky Racing VR46 Moto2 Team at the end of this season.

The young Italian won the 2015 CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship for Valentino Rossi's Junior Team, leading to a VR46 grand prix ride the following year.

Bulega's rookie season brought one pole position, two podiums, two fastest laps and seventh in the world championship. Results he has been unable to repeat since.

At 1.81m and 70kg, Bulega's size was seen as a distant disadvantage in Moto3 and he was duly promoted to Moto2 by VR46 this season. The 19-year-old has again shone brighter in qualifying, with a best of fourth on the grid but only ninth in a race.

"VR46 for me is like a second family," Bulega said upon announcing the split.

"I learned a lot from them and I feel privileged to have been part of this group and I can proudly say that I was a rider of my absolute idol Valentino Rossi.

"After so many seasons with the same colours and with the same people, however, now is the time when I have to try to walk on my own legs and undertake new professional experiences to complete me as a sportsman and a person.

"It will not be an easy challenge, indeed, but let's say that this aspect will also serve as a stimulus.

"I want to thank firstly Valentino Rossi, who believed in me and who was - and I hope can remain - an older brother, a friend, a great example. I thank Uccio, a friend with whom I always had an excellent relationship.

"But the list of people to thank is endless, from Albi, to Luca Marini, to all those who work at VR46 who were part of my great dream of racing in the world championship. I would also like to dedicate a special thanks to Sky who has always believed in me."

Bulega is set to sign for a rival Moto2 team in 2020, in turn meaning the Kalex VR46 seat alongside Marini is now up for grabs.

 

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