Rinaldi knows late-season form "not enough" for Ducati

Michael Ruben Rinaldi admits that his late-season World Superbike form will not be good enough to satisfy Ducati's expectations next year, when he moves up to the factory team.

Rinaldi knows late-season form "not enough" for Ducati
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Italian rider Rinaldi was given the call-up to replace Chaz Davies at the factory Ducati squad in 2020 after a promising campaign aboard the satellite Go Eleven Panigale V4 R.

He scored his first WSBK win at Aragon on his way to seventh in the championship, best of the independent riders, and had his first proper outing as a works rider in the test that followed last month's Estoril season finale (pictured top).

However, Rinaldi's form tailed off in the final three rounds of the year as he failed to finish higher than sixth, while Davies enjoyed a late-season revival that carried him to two race wins and a clear third place in the standings behind teammate Scott Redding.

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Discussing his promotion, Rinaldi said he was aware that he'll be expected to begin the 2021 campaign a lot more strongly than he finished the 2020 season.

"Of course when you join the factory team it’s because the factory wants to win the championship," said Rinaldi. "So sixth place, seventh place is not enough.

"For sure it brings pressure, but also [gives you] a lot of confidence, because a factory team trusts you. You can give more, and also you have a much better technical package.

"In the first year in a factory team it will be not so easy to fight for the title, but I’ll try to win more races, and if at the end of the year I am in front, I will fight for the title.

"I need to improve, but with the factory team’s help I can improve a lot."

Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Aruba.it Racing Ducati

Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Aruba.it Racing Ducati

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Rinaldi's step up to the factory team was announced just before the Estoril round, but the 24-year-old denied that there was immediate pressure to justify the decision by finishing ahead of Davies, who signed off on his tenure with the team with a win in Portugal.

"We have to remember that we are a small team, small budget, with the 2019 bike, so it’s normal that a rider like Chaz is front of me most of the time," said Rinaldi. "The normal situation is the factory riders are ahead.

"This year, sometimes it happened the opposite, and this is why I have a seat in the factory team next year. If they are in front of me, it’s [because it's] normally like this."

Rinaldi's future teammate Redding made his unhappiness with Ducati's decision to dispense with the services of Davies clear at Estoril.

One of Redding's main objections to Ducati signing Rinaldi was their difference in height (see in picture below), which he feels could compromise the V4 R's development.

But Rinaldi shrugged off any such concerns, saying the Italian manufacturer is capable of producing a bike that can work for a rider of any size.

"It’s not made for tall riders; it’s made like Ducati wants," he said. "Then if a rider it’s tall, it’s made comfortable for him with a different seat, but I am small and the base is good for me.

"It’s a versatile bike which you can adapt to me or Scott, who is much taller than me."

Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Team Goeleven, Scott Redding, Arubait Racing Ducati

Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Team Goeleven, Scott Redding, Arubait Racing Ducati

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images


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