Fancy a long-term bet on a future MotoGP winner? You could do worse than dropping a fiver on Nicolò Bulega or Kyle Ryde, two young guns with serious corner men…
If you happen to catch a gangly Italian teenager with a luminous yellow number plate breaching the top three in Moto3 don’t adjust you TVs – Valentino Rossi hasn’t miraculously knocked 20 years off his age. However, Nicolò Bulega is a new national sensation in the making. And he doesn’t just resemble a younger version of the nine-time world champ, he has the speed to match.
A member of the VR46 Academy, Bulega graduates to Moto3 as the reigning FIM Junior World Champion – a fierce formula to cut your teeth in – and is a regular on Rossi’s training ranch, where he’s been known to beat the great man and a host of other GP regulars. The long-haired prodigy’s performance in Qatar, where he finished sixth and rattled more experienced team-mate Romano Fenati’s cage, showed his undoubted precociousness.
Aside from his ranch commitments Bulega spends his free days go-karting or cutting around the Misano circuit on an R6 with his peers. Italy could have another star on its hands. Don’t be surprised to see this kid on the podium in the near future.
What do reigning world champions do in their spare time? According to World Superbike’s Jonathan Rea, you spot, help and manage younger riders who you feel have the necessary talent.
Watching English teenager Kyle Ryde claim a podium finish in his debut World Supersport appearance as a wildcard at Donington Park a year ago was enough to convince Rea the 18-year-old is the real deal.
The two worked together to find a suitable package, with Ryde signing for the Ranieri Med SC Yamaha team, riding the bike that took Sam Lowes to World Supersport honours in 2013.
‘There aren’t many young riders coming through who are exceptional,’ said Rea. ‘Kyle did an incredible job at Donington last year. The way he approached the weekend and worked with his team was impressive. In the paddock show after the race, I offered my support. The thing about this paddock is if you have someone knocking on doors, saying this person is the real deal, then you get taken more seriously. He’s got a good bike. Now it’s up to him.’
Ryde has been finding his feet in the world championship and has showed positively in his first races, despite a broken hand.
Words Neil Morrison