Although he’s shown similar speed to the WorldSBK champion through the opening two rounds, inconsistency has once again let Rinaldi down.

The Italian found the wet conditions of Race 1 in Phillip Island to be a monumental challenge as he dropped from sixth to P14, before making a mistake on the opening lap of Race 1 in Mandalika, as he clipped Axel Bassani before crashing out. 

When he’s finished a race, Rinaldi has often been on or around the podium positions, but in order to challenge Bautista for the title he will need to find an extra step.  

"For sure, my goal this season is to try to fight for the title," Rinaldi told "The first two rounds at Phillip Island and Mandalika, I felt really strong but, in the end, I wasn’t able to take the points or results that I wanted to. 

"At the moment, I am the lion that is chasing the gazelle! My teammate is already 67 points away, but I’m not focused on that. I am focused on getting the maximum result each weekend which is the most important thing. 

"In the end, I felt really good on the bike and really strong so I think, this year, we can do a great job!"

While turning his impressive speed into consistent results is the next aim for Rinaldi, there’s no denying that the Italian has found something more compared to last season.

Rinaldi was very rarely able to compete with Bautista, which has been far from the case in 2023.

One of the major reasons for that is a change to his off-season training approach, which included more preparation with former Ducati rider Chaz Davies, who is the Rider Coach for both Bautista and Rinaldi.

"This winter, I completely changed my way of training," added Rinaldi. "Now I have different daily routines and different trainings. I feel really different as a rider. 

"I feel really strong. I worked this winter with Chaz Davies, our rider coach, and we understood our weak points and we worked on them. It’s a new version. It’s small details that make a big difference."