21 year old Italian Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) secured the European Superstock 1000 Championship in style, at the Pirelli Spanish Round. In just his second full season in the series, Rinaldi has had a stunning season in 2017, taking the title at the final round and securing four victories overall.
First joining the WorldSBK paddock in 2014, Rinaldi joined the European Superstock 600 class and was able to gain a top 11 finish in the class, which is renowned for its close and competitive nature. Taking a best result of fifth around his home circuit of Imola, he made the switch from Yamaha to Kawasaki for the 2015 season. In a difficult season for the Italian, he was able to end the season as runner up despite three races outside of the points. Taking his debut win around Jerez, it was clear he had got into his stride on the European scene.
Making the step up into the European Superstock 1000 class for 2016, Rinaldi was team-mate to the title contender Leandro Mercado and was able to learn a lot in his rookie season. Ending in top six in the standings, the 21 year old took six top ten finishes including two podium appearances. With another learning year behind him, he entered the 2017 season ready to fight for the victory.
Beginning his season with a clear outlook on how he is set to take on the series, he dominated proceedings at MotorLand Aragon. Taking pole position and the race win around the Spanish circuit, it marked not only the first victory of the season but also the 21 year olds debut victory in the class. Crossing the line over 3.5s ahead of his rivals, his championship contention was stamped early on.
Three more pole positions followed the stunning opening round – at Imola, Donington Park and Misano – and just one finish outside of the top two so far in 2017. Unable to stop the flying Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) around the TT Circuit Assen, Rinaldi was able to bounce back around Imola, before crashing out in the UK at Donington Park. Locked in a stunning battle in the Italian heat of Misano, Rinaldi showed the grit and determination it takes to be a championship contender, and fought until the end with compatriot Marco Faccani (Althea BMW Racing Team), but took second position.
Following the summer break, the Ducati rider took the victory in front of the German fans around Lausitzring, in a dramatic race which saw him stretch out his title advantage ahead of the final three races following Razgatlioglu’s crash. Struggling to keep up this pace as the series made its return to Portimao, a string of disappointing results followed which meant the fight went down to Jerez and he took sixth position, which was enough to take the title by eight points.
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Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati):
“It was worth the wait, the last three races have been very difficult but yesterday we found our way. It was just unlucky we broke some parts of our engine yesterday so I started low on the grid. But I was able to go up and up in the race and for me this championship is unbelievable. I want to thank everyone who has stayed behind me and supported me.”
STK1000 Race at Jerez
1. Markus Reiterberger BMW
2. Illia Mykhalchyk Kawasaki +5.078
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu Kawasaki +6.251
STK1000 Championship Standings Pirelli Spanish Round:
1. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (ITA) Ducati (138 points)
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR) Kawasaki (130 points)
3. Florian Marino (FRA) Yamaha (120 points)