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WorldSBK Aragon: Rinaldi begins to stake his factory status claim

Behind the big six factory riders the battle for the top independent rider status swung hard towards Michael Ruben Rinaldi in Motorland 1. Many top riders on factory bikes would have been happy to leave with a record of fifth in Superpole, then 4-8-5 in the races.

There is a gap to the front six in the points now, with Rinaldi 23 points behind Alex Lowes (KRT) but Rinaldi comfortably outscored him at Motorland.

“I was happier than yesterday, not because of the finishing position but because the race was faster compared to my Saturday pace. I improved the rear grip so I could brake more strongly and open the throttle earlier and that is why we were faster.”


Rinaldi was also close to Redding in race two, showing that Ducati’s privateer programme is again working close to their glory days, when anybody could buy an 888/916 and go hunting for podiums in WorldSBK – if they had the right rider and teams staff, naturally.

“Our pace was similar to Redding’s and maybe in he last laps maybe I was a little bit faster but not too much to make a move.”

With another Aragon race in a few days Rinaldi knows he needs to improve but he is not sure if he will have full podium pace with so many other riders around.

It has been a great return overall since lockdown for Rinaldi and as he said himself, he has been always there or thereabouts recently. The question for Rinaldi now is can splitting the factory bikes every weekend be his ‘new’ normal’ as he hunts for a factory seat next season.

“I hope!” he said, “and after lockdown I arrived in he track with a different mentality, no stress and jumped on the bike enjoying what I do, every time. Also I am on the grid relaxed, with a smile on my face.

This never happened to me and this is because there is a good atmosphere in the garage. Also when you try and move on the bike and it is not working, which can happen, then you go back into garage and try other things, and that is why we are here.”

His season with Barni in 2019 was tough, and he obviously felt under appreciated. “I always believed in myself but when the difficult times come it is not easy to stay positive,” said Rinaldi.

“A few people were behind me also during some difficult moments last year, but when you are in a place where people think you are not good, what they think affects you.

"But fortunately for this year I completely changed my mindset and my team helped me. Those people who were behind me in those moments of struggle are here today and I am grateful to them because they always believed in me like I believed in me.

"When things do not go well a lot of people can speak really easily about it and not analyse the situation. But I do not want to think about the past; I am here, I am happy on the bike and this is why we are here. We need to improve but this is the fifth time, consecutively, that we are the top independent team and the team deserve it.”

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