Nicolo Bulega believes tyre management will be key despite mandatory pit stop

Despite the new mandatory pit stop rule for this weekend’s Australian WorldSBK round, Nicolo Bulega still believes tyre management will be key.

Nicolo Bulega, Australian WorldSBK, 23 February
Nicolo Bulega, Australian WorldSBK, 23 February

Second fastest on day-one of the 2024 WorldSBK season-opener at Phillip Island, Nicolo Bulega confirmed his pre-season form by looking very strong, particularly in FP2.

The Italian went faster than the new lap record which was set by Andrea Locatelli in FP1, as did Alex Lowes who topped the session.

But it wasn’t a smooth start for Bulega, who was affected by the high winds: “It was a strange and difficult day. There was a lot of wind and it was difficult, especially in the exit of the corner.

“Sometimes you felt the wind on the front and it go light, so it was not easy to go full throttle. It was the same conditions for everybody so I tried to improve my conditions with the win  compared to FP1.

“I made a great improvement. I didn’t have a lot of fun because I don’t like the wind, but hopefully tomorrow there will be less wind.”

A different setting was tried by Bulega and Ducati and this was not aided by the conditions.

“We tried something different with the setting compared to the test,” added Bulega. “It was difficult to understand because of the wind. 

“In some turns it helped you to turn or for braking, but in other parts of the circuit it was not a help. 

“It was not so fun because I had to think more about the wind than riding the bike.”

While the top ten were all covered by less than half a second, Bulega still believes that tyre management will be key.

Phillip Island is one of the harshest circuits when it comes to tyre degradation, and the new track surface has only enhanced that fear.

That’s why a mandatory pit stop has been confirmed for both feature races.

Asked about who could be in the mix, Bulega said: “I don’t know. I’m not thinking too much about the weekend. I just want to have fun and push my bike until the end of Sunday.

“Everybody is really close but I think the difference we can make is from lap four or five until you change tyres. It will be important not to destroy the tyres.”

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