Rinaldi’s second place in Race 2 helped secure a 1-2 for Ducati in Spain while it also took his podium count for 2022 to four
On the back of a new Ducati contract secured for 2023 in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) headed into the 2022 Catalunya Round with a spring in his step and he duly converted that into a podium finish at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with second place in Race 2. It meant the factory Ducati team secured a 1-2 finish with Championship leader Alvaro Bautista ahead of Rinaldi at the end of the 20-lap race.
A mistake in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session left Rinaldi tenth on the grid for Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race, but he recovered to take fourth in Saturday’s Race 1 and fifth in Sunday’s 10-lap Superpole Race. This gave him a second row start for Race 2 on Sunday afternoon and, with track temperatures rising, gave Rinaldi a prime spot to attack for a podium place in Spain.
The Italian got a good start as the lights went out and immediately bottled into second place, behind teammate Bautista who had started from pole position. Although Rinaldi did not have the pace to go with Bautista throughout the 20-lap fight, he was involved in a mega battle for second place with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK), Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing).
The four riders were often swapping places into Turn 1 with Rinaldi making moves there on Lap 10 and 11 against Rea and Bassani. Once he moved into second place again, Rinaldi was able to put in a bit of a buffer to Razgatlioglu, who passed Bassani and took advantage of Rea running wide to move into third, to claim his fourth podium of the 2022 season and his 14th in WorldSBK, as well as strengthening his grip on fourth place in the Championship standings.
Reacting to his strong Race 2, Rinaldi said: “I really enjoyed the race. I started well but Jonny and Axel pushed really hard at the beginning of the race, so I had to battle but, at the same time, manage the tyres because we knew what happened on Saturday. I did it. Really happy because I had a good pace. I didn’t have the pace of Alvaro but, anyway, we need to be happy about second place because it’s the second round in a row.”
For 2023, Rinaldi will once again be paired with Championship leader Bautista at Ducati with the two having started working together in 2022 and with Ducati leading the Riders’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Championships after eight rounds. After the race, Rinaldi told his teammate where he had finished with Bautista and Rinaldi sharing a moment after leading Ducati to a 1-2 finish in Barcelona.
Discussing his relationship with Bautista, Rinaldi said: “My relationship with Alvaro is great and the goal for the team is to win the Championship, especially in the Riders’ standings. It’s a target that we have been trying to reach for many years. I will not be selfish, and I am really happy for Alvaro and for the team, because this is the most important thing.”
Watch the 2022 title battle unfold in style using the WorldSBK VideoPass!