Rinaldi plays down beating Bautista on Day 1 at Portimao, "quite satisfied" after topping the times
The Italian rider showed strong pace throughout the opening day of the test, Rinaldi discussed his strong pace, where he’d like to improve and his goals for 2023
It was a good start to the test at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) as he topped the times in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field by just 0.061s. Rinaldi left it late in the day to top the times on the Panigale V4 R but he was able to leap to the front of the field in a very tight top three; only 0.068s separated Rinaldi in first and teammate Alvaro Bautista in third place.
Portimao marks the second test for Rinaldi on the 2023 Panigale V4 R and, after ending the Jerez test in a strong position, continued that form in Portugal. In the first half of today’s running, Bautista was running first with Rinaldi in second but the Italian was able to overhaul his teammate as the day’s running concluded. Rinaldi’s lap time, a 1’39.639s, was just outside the Tissot Superpole lap record set by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in last year’s Portuguese Round.
Looking back on his day, Rinaldi said: “Today has been a good day for us. This morning, I jumped on the bike and felt good and really comfortable. I was quick but I didn’t look at that, I just tried to get a good feeling with the bike, and we tried, during the day, some tyres. We followed the plan. In the end, it was strange because I put the qualifying trye on, but I didn’t improve my lap time. My best lap time was with the 800, which is the race tyre. In the last ten minutes, I asked again for the 800 and I did the lap time. That means we are really strong with the race package but with the time attack, with the qualifying tyre, we are not that good because you should improve a lot and we didn’t. We have a plan for tomorrow, but I will try to improve this weak point which is the Superpole tyre. Apart from that, I am quite satisfied with today because Jerez went well, and I arrived here and it’s always positive to start with the right foot.”
Rinaldi was ahead of teammate Bautista at the end of Day 1 albeit with only 0.068s between the two Ducati riders. The pair will head into their second season as teammates and, after helping Ducati take the Riders’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Championships in 2022, will be aiming for a repeat in 2023. Rinaldi, however, was keen to play down the importance of being ahead of his teammate in the early stages of 2023 while outlining his ultimate goal.
He said: “I’m not racing against my teammate. He is the fastest, last year he won the Championship and we know the potential of Alvaro. I don’t look at it like I’m stronger because it’s just a test and everybody works differently. We know he will be the favourite for the first race, especially in Phillip Island, because he is so quick there. I don’t want to talk too much; I just want to stay humble and work hard. I’m working on a step up. I want to try and fight for the title, it’s the main goal for this year. Position one is what I want. It’s something that I must be always if I want to try and achieve my goal. Really happy, for sure, but we need to keep this line and this motivation.”
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