The Italian prepares for his biggest battle yet
After taking out the European Superstock 1000 crown last season in only the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team’s second full season campaign, Michael Ruben Rinaldi is set to challenge WorldSBK’s biggest names as the Italian team prepare to make their debut in the premier category. The 22-year-old will step up to the challenge on a Ducati Panigale R, the same bike on which he won the 2017 title with as a “stock” version.
With three wins and five podiums in 2017, the team feel that the Italian rider is ready to take the next step. “Two years ago when we decided to double our commitment and create the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team, our main goal was to select young talents and give them a chance to develop as riders,” explained Stefano Cecconi, Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team Principal. "After taking the Superstock 1000 title last year with Michael, the rider's and team's debut in WorldSBK was the obvious next step to take on this path.”
Rinaldi has already tested the WorldSBK-spec twin cylinder Panigale R over the winter and it is expected that the team will participate in the European rounds this season, before evaluating whether or not to extend their commitment to the full WorldSBK calendar in 2019. "We can count on the experience gained with the official team in the past three seasons on track with the Panigale R, whose potential is clear,” continued Cecconi. "For us, it will be a season during which to learn and grow, but we're also confident about our chances to put ourselves in the limelight when the opportunity comes.”
A thrilled Michael Ruben Rinaldi commented, "I'm obviously very happy for this opportunity. To be able to keep racing with the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team after two memorable seasons, and to step up to WorldSBK, with a competitive bike and such a great crew, is a dream come true. We will start our season in Aragon, so we'll try to use the extra time available to be even more prepared. The goal is first and foremost to learn as much as possible, and to improve both my riding and my working approach, but clearly we'll also try to show our potential, because we have all the necessary tools to achieve good results."
It will be a while before Rinaldi lines up on the grid in Aragon. WorldSBK kicks off on February 23 at the picturesque Phillip Island, which is sure to be a scorcher Down Under. Make sure you don’t miss a minute of the action with your WorldSBK VideoPass.