There was plenty up for grabs throughout the last round of the season including a tight battle for fourth in the standings between Andrea Locatelli and Michael Ruben Rinaldi
One of the big unknowns going into the season finale of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was who would finish fourth in the Championship standings, with Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) battling it out. Locatelli claimed fourth in Race 2 at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit for the Pirelli Indonesian Round.
The pair were separated by just eight points heading into the final round of the 2021 season, with Rinaldi leading Locatelli on 278 points compared to 270. In Race 1, Locatelli claimed fourth place with Rinaldi in 12th, moving Locatelli ahead of Rinaldi in the standings by just a single point.
Race 2 was held in wet conditions, the pair were battling on track over eighth place, with Rinaldi making a move on Locatelli on Lap 9 of 12 in a shortened encounter due to a delay caused by heavy rain. Finishing ahead of Locatelli would have been enough for the Ducati rider to take fourth place in the Championship standings, but he crashed out of the race on the final lap, allowing Locatelli to take fourth in the standings in his rookie season.
Explaining his thoughts on taking fourth, Locatelli said: “In the end, we closed the Championship in fourth place, and this is a good point for us and the team. It was a difficult race in the rain, but it was another good weekend for us. We improved a lot during the weekend. I need to be happy about fourth place because everyone worked well. I, and also the guys, improved with me. We got some podiums and close some races in the points. It’s the best way to start next season with more motivation, to try and get more results. For the first season, I think it’s amazing for me and all my team. I’m really happy about this.”
Rinaldi ended his first season with the factory Ducati outfit with three wins to his name, including two at his home round at Misano, but ultimately finished fifth after a challenging season. For 2022, he will have a new teammate as Alvaro Bautista returns to the team after two years at Team HRC, while Scott Redding departs for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team.
Reflecting on the race, while also looking ahead to 2022, Rinaldi said: “I am very sorry for how the race ended. I gave my best to be able to take fourth place in the final standings. Starting from the fifth row was not easy but I had patience, recovering positions lap after lap. In the end of the race, after being able 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 had a lot of experience and this will certainly be an advantage for 2022.”
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