"He’s like a son but racing is racing" – Foti drops major hint about Rinaldi’s future

Wednesday, 30 August 2023 07:37 GMT

The name of the rider who will partner Alvaro Bautista has been long awaited and, at Aragon, Serafino Foti revealed a decision was imminent

Silly season in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has been eventful already and one seat that is still up for grabs is the one next to Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) in 2024. Incumbent Michael Ruben Rinaldi has been trying to secure his future with the team but, speaking on day one at the Aragon test, Team Manager Serafino Foti dropped the biggest hint yet that the team have decided on a future without the Italian.

The #21 topped the times on the opening day of the test but has found results hard to come by this season, with a combination of bad luck and poor weekends leaving him languishing seventh in the Riders’ Championship standings, despite taking five podiums. He is behind teammate Bautista as well as two Independent Ducati riders, with Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) fifth and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) sixth.

Several names have been linked with Rinaldi’s seat for 2024 including Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team), who currently leads the WorldSSP standings. During the Aragon test, Foti was asked for an update on when a decision would be made and communicated. He stated a final decision would be made in the upcoming days with a goal to announce their line-up at the French Round at the start of September.

Expanding on this, Foti said: “We are really close to a decision. We have a final meeting in the next few days. Our goal will be to announce our line-up at Magny-Cours. To be honest, as I’ve said in the past, Bulega’s one of the best options but we also have other options. We have a clear idea, but we would like to understand really what is the best choice for us. We have a really good relationship with Rinaldi. He’s like a son but racing is racing. He was so fast on day one for us. I hope he can continue with Ducati because we will try to find him a place. The final decision will be made in the next few days.”

Should Bulega get the nod for the WorldSBK seat, it would leave an opening in WorldSSP at the team currently leading the Championship. Like in World Superbike, several riders have been linked with the World Supersport team, but nothing has yet been made official about that seat. When pressed for an update on the WorldSSP situation, Foti refused to name names about their target.

He said: “At this moment, we tried to speak to many riders. A lot of riders also asked about riding in WorldSSP. We need to be honest, and I try to be clear, we have many riders and I try to speak to them. It’s a little bit early but we would also like to define in the next month.”

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