The Italian bounced back from a technical issue on Saturday to score a podium but was still left with a feeling of what might have been
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) bounced back from a difficult Saturday to climb onto the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship podium in Race 2 at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. He finished third, behind teammate Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) as he got the best seat in the house for their epic duel (if you want to catch up on it, or watch it again, click HERE) as he took a podium for the third time in six races despite some bad luck during the Pirelli Portuguese Round.
In Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session, Rinaldi was 13th at the flag after setting a 1’40.385s but he had a faster time of 1’39.724s deleted as it was set under yellow flags at Turn 13. It proved he had more pace available to him, but he was unable to use it to full advantage in the 15-minute Superpole session. However, he did gain one position on the Race 1 grid. With Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) forced to start at the back of the grid, the Ducati star lined up 12th.
In Race 1, the Aragon winner just a week ago moved himself into seventh by the end of Lap 7 before his race unravelled. He had a technical issue with his Panigale V4 R which forced him to retire and not be rewarded for his excellent early-race pace. In the Tissot Superpole Race, Rinaldi started from 13th, with ‘Loka’ back on the front row, but finished the 10-lap battle in sixth to secure a second-row grid slot for Race 2 as he looked to salvage something from a difficult weekend.
While Bautista and Razgatlioglu were scrapping it out non-stop for 20 laps ahead, Rinaldi had worked his way up to third to give him the best view of the action. He moved into fifth on the opening lap before passing both Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Locatelli. From there, the #21 was able to gap the riders behind and stay close to the fighting duo ahead as he came home in third.
Explaining how he battled back for a podium, Rinaldi said: “It was a really good race. I pushed a lot to achieve this podium and, at one point in the race, I thought about getting in that fight for the win. I wasn’t able to, so I enjoyed the view! This weekend has been really unlucky. On Saturday, I was second in Superpole but then, because of yellow flags, they took away my time. It’s a shame because I had to start in 12th in Race 1 and you start the race with that commitment to try to finish in a top position. After some laps, when I was improving my position, my bike had a technical problem and I had to retire because it was impossible to continue.
“On Sunday morning, our mentality was that I don’t have too many laps in the Superpole Race to try to fight for the win, but I had good pace, so I started to gain positions and get a good grid position for Race 2. We finished sixth and started Race 2 from there. In the second race, I gave my best. I’m happy about the podium but the regrets about twice losing an opportunity are a little bit more.”
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