Aruba.it Ducati celebrated a double WorldSBK podium for its first home race of 2022 after Michael Rinaldi claimed third on Saturday.
After winning at the World Circuit last year, Rinaldi secured himself his first podium of the season on his factory Ducati in Misano race one, with a little bit of luck from the fact that Toprak Razgatlioglu lost an almost certain podium finish when his bike broke down.
The 26-year-old understood his good fortune very well but he really needed a podium to kickstart his 2022 ambitions. Third place at home, after his teammate Alvaro Bautista won the race, was just the Ducati-red cherry on the early Misano cake.
“I’m really, really happy because actually I look to myself, and I see that the race was for me unbelievable,” said Rinaldi on Saturday afternoon. “I struggled a little bit at the beginning, but then the pace was really, really good. I was in the same two tenths all the races, and my fastest lap was lap 14, or something like this. So, our missing point in the races before was this. I worked a lot with the team to improve it.
“So, I see that like a victory for us because we see one struggle point, we focus on that, we improve that, and this can be a victory for us.
“For sure, Alvaro made an amazing lap,” he said of his championship leading teammate. “Now he’s very, very fast. I will be very stupid to say tomorrow we fight with the same pace. But, I look to myself and to my side and I can say that we can improve step-by-step like this and we will always be close to the podium. Today I was also lucky because Toprak had an issue, but our pace was really, really good. So, very happy.”
Rinaldi also thinks that there is more to come from him and his package in general. He says he is not 100% not yet anyway.
“No, not yet. They are really, really strong in every condition. Beginning of the race, during the race, and at the end. I was 90% all the race. 80% at the beginning. So, I’m still missing something. But when you arrive from difficult moments, it’s normal. So, now I want to stay humble and I want to make an improvement every race.”
The level the three big fish in the WorldSBK pool have raised things to in 2022 is not lost on a factory WorldSBK rider like Rinaldi, who won races last year. He and all the others are currently chasing a target that is moving upwards.
“The level is higher,” he agreed. “I can truly say that because we are beating every fast lap in every track. So, to be at the same level you need to do something different. If not, it’s not working. Like Aragon or Assen. So, we are starting that and we are on our way to be there.”
Merely cutting and pasting Bautista’s settings is not an option for Rinaldi, even if he is only a little taller and a little heavier than his tiny Spanish teammate.
“Like for example, I can see the data of Alvaro,” said Rinaldi. “He really, really trusts the front in the middle of the corner. He can turn better. But his style is a little bit different than mine. I cannot copy him because if I try, I’m just losing time. So, I need to make different movements on the bike. I think, not soon, but maybe two or three races, we will be there with Alvaro.”