What caused Rinaldi’s error in Race 2 to deny him a Mandalika podium?

Monday, 6 March 2023 08:02 GMT

After leading throughout most of the restarted Race 2, Michael Ruben Rinaldi dropped to fourth on the final lap

Race 2 in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was a rollercoaster affair for Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit. The Italian rider had led throughout the shortened and restarted Race 2 during the Motul Indonesian Round but found himself in fourth place at the chequered flag behind teammate Alvaro Bautista as well as Toprak Razgatligolu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and Xavi Vierge (Team HRC).

The original race was red flagged on Lap 8 after a crash at Turn 11 involving Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) with Rinaldi more than two seconds clear of Razgatlioglu at their last completed timing point. In the seven full laps prior to the red flags, Rinaldi had started from seventh, was fourth at the end of Lap 2, second a lap later and took the lead on Lap 4.

He started the restarted race, which ran to a distance of 14 laps, from pole position and was able to maintain first place until Lap 13 of 14 when Bautista overtook him. The Spaniard had been closing in on his teammate throughout the closing stages and made a move into Turn 10 to demote Rinaldi into second place. On the final lap, Rinaldi went wide at the same corner which allowed Razgatlioglu and Vierge through as the Spanish rider took his first WorldSBK podium and demoted Rinaldi to fourth place.

Looking back on his weekend, and explaining what happened on Lap 14, Rinaldi said: “I’m upset because on Saturday, I made a mistake and crashed. On Sunday, I said I cannot change the past and I will try to push and see what happens. On Friday, we showed our strength. I started Race 2 and I felt good. I made a lot of overtakes. I was feeling good and I started to get my rhythm and lapping pretty quickly. When I was 2.5 seconds clear, there was a red flag. I said, ‘come on… maybe it’s not my time today!’. I went into the pits. We started the race again, but the problem was I started, like everybody else, with used tyres. We didn’t have new tyres. I used the fronts on Friday which meant that after a few laps I didn’t have front grip. I was pushing and my pace was pretty quick. Only Alvaro in the last part of the race was similar to me but then I dropped. When I dropped, I didn’t want to make a mistake. In Warm Up, when the tyres dropped, I crashed. I knew what the limit was, and I just wanted to bring the bike home. I almost did but on the last lap I almost crashed again. To try and have control of the bike, I took the focus off the brakes and as soon as I looked at the braking zone, I was late. I made a mistake and finished fourth. This year, we’ve shown our speed is there. After leading almost all the race, and not getting a podium at least, I’m upset.”

Rinaldi had shown strong pace throughout the weekend but also had a couple of crashes, including in Race 1 on Saturday and in Sunday’s Warm Up session. He also revealed in the Superpole Race that he had an issue in the opening laps which left him down the order to finish in seventh place; the reason why he started Race 2 there. He said: “In the Superpole Race, I had an issue with the engine brake. In the first two laps, as soon as I braked, the rear tyre locked, and I went wide two times. I changed the engine brake and I took it off more or less. I was able to lap quickly but I already lost too much time in the opening laps, so I finished at the back. Maybe it was not my lucky weekend.”

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