An intense final round to the 2021 WorldSBK season has seen rookie Andrea Locatelli get the better of fellow Italian Michael Rinaldi for P4 in the championship.  

The Pata Yamaha rider trailed Rinaldi heading into Sunday’s double-header at Mandalika, however, a fourth place finish in race one along with eighth in race two was enough to give Locatelli P4 by just 9 points.

In fact, the 2020 WorldSSP champion had already gained the advantage by one point heading into race two thanks to his earlier result.

It’s been a stunning debut year for Locatelli in WorldSBK as the 25 year-old has only finished outside the top ten on three occasions since Assen - a total of 25 races.

Locatelli’s form from Assen onwards was also key to Yamaha winning both the teams’ and constructors titles, while team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu won the riders’ title too.

"Looking back on this season, it’s great to finish P4 in the championship. I’m so happy for Toprak [Razgatlioglu] and the team because we won everything," said Locatelli. 

"I wasn’t too happy with the last race, but this is my first year and I’m starting to understand the WorldSBK championship now. 

"For next year, we will for sure come back even stronger. I’m so happy for the guys in the team, because without them the success of this year would not be possible."

While it’s smiles all around for Locatelli and Yamaha, the former Moto2 rider could easily have lost fourth to Rinaldi as the Italian was running inside the top five during the last two laps of race two, therefore ahead of Locatelli on-track.

However, a late crash saw Rinaldi’s hopes of claiming back P4 vanish, a mistake he's 'really sorry for’. 

Rinaldi said: "I'm really sorry for the way the race ended. I gave my best to be able to take fourth place in the final classification. 

"Starting from the fifth row wasn't easy but I was patient and made up positions lap after lap. 

"In the final part of the race, after I managed to complete the comeback, I tried to push to create a gap and defend myself from attacks but I lost the rear, without warning. 

"I thank the team for the work they have done this season. We have gained a lot of experience and this will definitely be an advantage for 2022."