Rinaldi: Misano WSBK wins silence critics who 'bashed me'
Michael Ruben Rinaldi feels his double win at Misano will serve to silence those critics who were “bashing” him following a lacklustre start to his first World Superbike season with Ducati.
Rinaldi was promoted to the factory Ducati outfit in 2021 at the expense of Chaz Davies after finishing as the top independent rider with the GoEleven satellite squad last year with a victory at Aragon.
However, not only the Italian rider failed to finish on the podium in the opening two rounds of the new season, he was even beaten by Davies’ satellite Panigale V4 R in half the races.
But the 25-year-old managed to turn around his season on his home turf last weekend, outduelling six-time champion Jonathan Rea in Race 1 before bagging another win in the Superpole race on Saturday.
The Italian’s breakthrough results were witnessed by Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali, who attended the Misano races in his first WSBK appearance of the 2021 season.
Rinaldi hopes that he will be able to build on his Misano successes going into the next round at Donington Park, having answered critics who were questioning Ducati's decision to hand him a factory seat.
“I had the pace," he said. "I think I could go a little bit faster but fortunately Jonny [Rea] made a mistake and I gained four seconds. I tried to do a good pace, not to push too much but good pace to maintain the gap.
“Really happy because it was my home race and we had a difficult start to the season. Already people [had] started talking, bashing me on social media, or media as well. But I told myself ‘people criticise [Marc] Marquez, who am I to not have any critics?’
“So I just tried to keep my focus. I knew I could make a good race here. So really happy. I need to capitalise on this situation.”
Rinaldi was denied the opportunity to claim a clean sweep of victories in Italy by Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu, the Turkish rider passing him into Turn 14 nine laps into the race.
Rinaldi said he was hoping to repass Razgatlioglu for the lead later in the race, but felt second place was better than risking a crash and losing crucial points in the championship.
“I gave my 100 percent today but the difference was the track conditions, it was hotter. So different track [conditions] means different feeling with the bike,” he explained.
“I tried to do the same strategy [as Race 1], go in front and push but I saw the pitboard, somebody was there and catching me and I was already pushing my 100 percent. Toprak passed me [and] he [just] went away.
“I tried to keep 20 percent [in hand] to catch him again and pass him but I almost crashed twice in the last four laps.
“I saw I couldn’t catch him so I told myself second is better than crashing. I was quite upset because I needed that win, I was so close. But they were just better than us today, they were really good.
"After a win yesterday and today we didn’t take the risk to change anything on the bike, that gives you the same bike but maybe you don’t improve too much and maybe with more temperature on the asphalt we struggled a little bit [and] that makes you finish second rather than first.”
Misano WSBK: Razgatlioglu clinches first Yamaha win of 2021
Rea 'has to accept' winless Misano WSBK weekend