Michael Ruben Rinaldi did his Aruba Ducati team-mate Alvaro Bautista a welcome service by winning the first WorldSBK race of the weekend at Aragon after the points’ leader came down while leading.
The Spaniard, who came into his home round as a hot favourite to put a stamp on a WorldSBK Championship advantage that stood at 57 points before the opening race, instead saw his lead slashed to 37 points with two costly crashes.
His exit paved the way for Rinaldi to take some of the spotlight as he beat down an early deficit to the lead group before usurping Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea in the concluding laps as he came on strong late on.
A first win of the season for Rinaldi at the circuit where he achieved his maiden WorldSBK win on the Go Eleven Ducati in 2020, it comes at a critical time as he continues his search for a 2024 WorldSBK ride.
It wasn’t a win that looked on the cards during the opening half of the race, Rinaldi quickly losing touch with a fast-lapping front trio led initially by Bautista - who got the hole-shot from second - followed by Rea and Razgatlioglu.
With the Kawasaki and Yamaha riders tripping over one another in their fight for second, it allowed Bautista to steadily eke a gap out over his rivals. However, it all came to nothing on lap six when Bautista got out of shape through the right-left flick of Turns 6 and 7, causing the Ducati Panigale V4 R to spin round and carry him into the gravel trap.
His demise transformed Rea and Razgatlioglu’s simmering feud into a fight for the lead with the latter wasting no time in pouncing with a pass on Rea soon afterwards, before the six-time WorldSBK Champion fought back on lap seven.
It was a squabble that would allow Rinaldi back into the fray, the Italian biding his time and conserving his tyres to reel in the pair ahead towards the latter stages.
With Rea and Razgatlioglu visibly wilting, Rinaldi quickly made his moves, passing Razgatlioglu for second with six laps remaining. From here, Rinaldi got to work on Rea and though the Ulsterman put up a stiffer defence as they swapped the lead twice on lap 15 of 18, once Rinaldi was definitely through he quickly pulled clear into a lead he’d protect to the flag.
An emotional win as he enters his final races with the Aruba.it Ducati team, Rinaldi crossed the line +1.2secs up on Razgatlioglu, the Turk finally getting his pass done on Rea with three laps to go to eat a 20 point chunk out of Bautista’s advantage.
As for the Spaniard, though he remounted and made headway back up the order, he’d only get as far as 16th before crashing for a second time - this time terminally - on the final lap.
Beyond the podium, Andrea Locatelli held on for a fourth place finish, ahead of an inspired Danilo Petrucci, who scythed up the order from 25th and last on the grid to take fifth, while Philipp Oettl scored one of his best results of the season in sixth.
Remy Gardner collected seventh on the GRT Yamaha, from top BMW rider Garrett Gerloff in eighth, a fading Axel Bassani in ninth and Iker Lecuona, who took tenth despite two long lap penalties.
|2023 Aragon WorldSBK | Motorland Aragon | Race 1 Results| Round 10 of 12|
|1||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||🇮🇹||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||18 Laps|
|2||Toprak Razgatlioglu||🇹🇷||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+1.253|
|3||Jonathan Rea||🇬🇧||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+2.837|
|4||Andrea Locatelli||🇮🇹||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||+5.902|
|5||Danilo Petrucci||🇮🇹||Barni Spark Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+7.553|
|6||Philipp Oettl||🇩🇪||Go Eleven||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+14.427|
|7||Remy Gardner||🇦🇺||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+17.014|
|8||Garrett Gerloff||🇺🇲||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+17.259|
|9||Axel Bassani||🇮🇹||Motocorsa Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+18.469|
|10||Iker Lecuona||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+19.424|
|11||Scott Redding||🇬🇧||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+21.653|
|12||Xavi Vierge||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+21.960|
|13||Michael van der Mark||🇳🇱||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||+23.690|
|14||Loris Baz||🇫🇷||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+23.971|
|15||Dominique Aegerter||🇨🇭||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||+24.523|
|16||Florian Marino||🇫🇷||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+28.279|
|17||Lorenzo Baldassarri||🇮🇹||GMT 94||Yamaha R1||+37.369|
|18||Bradley Ray||🇬🇧||Motoxracing||Yamaha R1||+38.489|
|19||Hafizh Syahrin||🇲🇾||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||+46.123|
|20||Isaac Vinales||🇪🇸||TPR by Vinales Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+46.478|
|21||Gabriele Ruiu||🇮🇹||B-Max Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||+1m >|
|22||Oliver Konig||🇨🇿||Orelac Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+1m >|
|DNF||Alvaro Bautista||🇪🇸||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R|
|DNF||Eric Granado||🇧🇷||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R|
|DNF||Tito Rabat||🇪🇸||Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|