STK1000 Review: Rinaldi revels in title glory

Friday, 10 November 2017 09:20 GMT

Take a look back over a phenomenal European season

Notoriously competitive and guaranteed to provide stunning racing, the European Superstock 1000 Championship hosted another tough battle which went down to the wire in 2017, with three riders in with the chance of taking the title at Circuito de Jerez. In an emotional fight, Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Junior Team) secured the crown by a narrow eight points in the final race. Treated to a stunning season of intense battles as well as some stunning domination, we review the racing action we were treated to.

As tensions began to build for the first round of the STK1000 season at MotorLand Aragon, it was Rinaldi who secured the first bragging rights, taking pole position and going on to dominate in the race around the sweeping Northern Spanish circuit. Beating Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team-mates Florian Marino and Roberto Tamborini to the line, it was clear from the opening race the 21 year old Italian was the man to beat on board the Panigale.

Following a three week break, STK1000 action resumed at the TT Circuit Assen and it was time for up and coming Turkish talent Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) to shine, as he took an assertive victory around the historic circuit. Starting from second position on the grid, the Turkish rider quickly got into the lead and didn’t look back. He stormed to victory in the shortened nine lap race, ahead of Rinaldi and Marino as the title contenders began to reveal themselves.

The adoring Ducatisti were awaiting some tense on track fights for the third round of the season at Imola, as Rinaldi hoped to impress his home fans at Ducati’s home track. His pace was never in doubt throughout the weekend, taking pole position by over half a second. Getting a strong getaway in the restarted race around the fan favourite Imola, Rinaldi took the victory by over two seconds from compatriot Tamburini, whilst main title rival Razgatlioglu rounded out the podium.

Heading across the English Channel for the UK Round at Donington Park, Razgatlioglu cruised his ZX-10RR machine to victory, at a circuit which tends to lend itself well to the Ninja. At the emotional Pata UK Round, fans were treated to a confident victory from fourth on the grid, whilst Rinaldi crashed out on the second lap of 15. Making up a big points advantage in the championship standings, it was clear Razgatlioglu was well and truly in the title fight.

Ahead of the summer break for the STK1000 class, Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli welcomed scorching summer temperatures and scorching on track action to match. Coming down to the final three laps it looked as if Rinaldi had the victory secured, however Marco Faccani (Althea BMW Racing Team) wasn’t prepared to go down without a fight. Sticking his BMW S 1000R up the inside of Rinaldi with three corners remaining, his compatriot had no response and Faccani secured his debut victory of the season in front of his home fans.

Fresh and hungry to take on the second half of the season, Rinaldi and Australian team-mate Mike Jones ( Racing – Junior Team) were the duo to beat going into the seventh race of the season. With thoughts beginning to turn to the championship title, drama hit the Lausitzring Circuit and Razgatlioglu crashed out with two laps remaining. Italian Rinaldi was able to take full advantage of this, winning the race and pulling a 19 point lead over his rival in the standings.

Making the return to Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Rinaldi was in with his first chance to take the title in Southern Europe, but had a lot of pressure on his shoulders in Portugal. Qualifying in eighth position, it was down to Razgatlioglu to make the steps forward and chase down the Italian. The Turkish performed a masterclass to take the victory ahead of the ever consistent Marino, whilst Rinaldi could only take a top nine finish.

Drama surrounded the French Round at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, as Razgatlioglu was flown home to Turkey following an injury sustained on Saturday. This meant Rinaldi was in with the opportunity of taking the title in his absence, but home hero Jeremy Guarnoni (Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was putting up a strong fight. Whilst Rinaldi was having a difficult weekend, Guarnoni was able to put in a stunning performance throughout the race to take his first victory of the season on board the ZX-10RR.

With everything left to play for in the final race of the season, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship paddock descended on Circuito de Jerez, and it was a three horse race for the crown. With Razgatlioglu, Rinaldi and Marino all within a shot of taking the title, there was a lot of pressure on and the racing action delivered. As one event rider Markus Reitberger (Van Zon Remeha BMW) stunned crowds to take pole position and the victory, there was another battle out on track fans couldn’t avoid. Early race heartbreak came for Marino as he was involved in a crash on the opening laps which ruled him out of contention, meaning it came down to Razgatlioglu and Rinaldi. Despite the Turkish rider securing a podium finish, it wasn’t enough to stop sixth position finisher Rinaldi and the Italian secured the crown by eight points.

Prepare for what is set to be a stunning 2018 season with the Off-season pass, catching up on testing highlights or relive the amazing nine races from the 2017 season, with the WorldSBK VideoPass.