Rinaldi ‘upset’ after Race 1, ‘followed the plan’ to make up for it with podiums

Michael Ruben Rinaldi fulfilled his pre-season testing potential by recovering from a disastrous Race 1 at Phillip Island to finish best of the rest behind WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Ducati WorldSBK Phillip Island 2023
Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Ducati WorldSBK Phillip Island 2023

After being one of the fastest riders in testing, Rinaldi suffered a shocking Race 1 in the wet as he slipped from sixth to 14th position.

While Bautista showed his class by beating Jonathan Rea to victory, Rinaldi’s performance was one that left a lot to be desired, although his response on Sunday was emphatic. 

The Italian finished twice a runner-up in the dry, and although he had hoped to challenge Bautista for the win, race simulations from Friday practice suggested Rinaldi would be in contention for second, which he also admitted was the realistic aim.  

"I’m really happy about today," said Rinaldi. "I was upset on Saturday after a strong start to pre-season, and on Friday we were strong. We faced rain conditions on Saturday, and I felt really bad in the wet. 

"I couldn’t push. After the race, I was disappointed. For the next races, we need to understand why we couldn’t perform in wet conditions.

"I knew it wasn’t raining today so I knew where my level was. I pushed. I tried to follow the plan that I talked about with the team. 

"We checked the lap times from the test and from Friday and we thought maybe I couldn’t fight for the win, but for second place. Today we followed that, and I felt really good on the bike. 

"Starting like this at Phillip Island, a track where I’ve struggled a little bit in the past, is really, really good for the confidence we need to have for the whole Championship."

Andrea Locatelli in top form as he leads Yamaha’s WorldSBK charge

Andrea Locatelli , Race 2 Australian WorldSBK, 27 February
Andrea Locatelli , Race 2 Australian WorldSBK, 27 February

Thanks to his first podium of the year as he out-performed teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu prior to the 2021 world champion crashing out following contact with Alex Lowes, in Race 2, the former 2020 WorldSSP champion is now second in the standings behind Bautista.

Locatelli was also quicker than Razgatlioglu following Friday practice, which is a great sign for the Italian after he struggled to match Razgatlioglu throughout the 2022 season. 

"It was an interesting race for us," stated Locatelli. "We were closer in the first part, especially in the first five laps, but then we knew it was a bit difficult to follow the Ducati in front. 

"We were competitive to be on the podium. In the end, we finished the weekend with one podium so I’m really happy especially because we are at Phillip Island. I’m really proud of my team because we worked well during the Test and also the weekend. 

"Unfortunately we crashed during FP2 and maybe we lost a little bit of the feeling especially at the front but, in the end, I think it was one of the best weekends in our life and my life in WorldSBK because to get the podium at Phillip Island is something special. We’re looking forward to it and next week we have a new opportunity."

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