For a rider who had won three races in 2021, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba Ducati) often seems to operate under the radar but after some strong recent rides and a podium in Argentina’s first race, he is up to fourth in the championship fight, ahead of Locatelli, van der Mark, Lowes, Gerloff, Bassani, Bautista, Sykes, Haslam… Only the big three, Razgatlioglu, Rea and Redding are ahead with one round to go.
“Actually I’m happy about the race,” Rinaldi said about Saturday’s podium performance. “Not so happy about the day, because we made a mistake in qualifying and when you start on the third row, your race is already compromised. But, I was able to make a good start.
“At the end of the first lap I didn’t have the pace, so I said, ‘OK, breathe. You have a good pace. We can.’ So, I did that, and then after four or five laps I overtook some riders and then I was third. I see Johnny in the same place on that lap, so the pace was good.”
So good it matched his qualifying pace, even if he was not happy about it.
“Yeah, actually I was surprised to ride fast for the 38-low, which means it was the same times as my qualifying. So, I was a little bit surprised.
“We compromised our weekend in qualifying and the Superpole Race because we are not able to use the acceleration to go faster,” he continued, on Sunday evening. “Today I make the best lap of the weekend on the 18th lap of the race. For sure that’s good for the race, but we need to understand how to use the grip. But, we are not in the right way to solve this problem. We are putting in all our effort to try to understand how to be faster when the conditions allow everybody else to do it.”
Rinaldi is now firmly in a fight for the championship top four, which he really wants to win at the final round. “For the championship, it’s good points because I’m fighting for fourth place with Locatelli. I want to get fourth in the championship. It’s important for the team as well.
“This year is a year that we need to work for the next season. Unfortunately, we still have a lot of work to do to understand how to do our best point, but we will do our best.”