Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) and his look back – in the first two rounds of the World Cup, the young Italian owed a lot for being brought into the Reds’ works team instead of Davies.

Expectations for the Italy round of WorldSBK

Ducati and Yamaha are under particular pressure, respectively two of their drivers in the factory team and their managers. Not only we were surprised that Chaz Davies was relegated and replaced by Michael Ruben Rinaldi in the works team. The veteran Welshman had been better than the young Italian for the entire 2020 season. Michael Ruben Rinaldi was able to shine on exactly one of only 8 weekends due to the pandemic. In the end, however, he was only seventh in the World Championship, had a victory like Chaz, but he had 2 on the account and 7 podiums compared to only 2 for Rinaldi. In addition, the three-time vice world champion was at least third in the World Cup.

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx) has the same problem as Ducati works driver Rinaldi, as he was promoted directly to the works team and the public’s expectations are automatically higher there than if he had ended up at GRT Yamaha for an apprenticeship year. Now comes a route that he knows like the back of his hand and on which, like Rinaldi, one can expect a lot.

Rinaldi and Locatelli now have to deliver
For this season Davies has swapped places with the 25-year-old from Rimini, drives as a private driver with factory support for GoEleven Ducati and is again significantly better than him. World Cup rank 5 for Davies compared to P10 for the man from the land of pizza is a clear verdict. The Italian now has to deliver only a few kilometers from his hometown, otherwise he will embarrass those responsible for Ducati. They would appear in public as laypeople if the tendency of the first rounds continued. The same applies to Yamaha Europe Manager Dosoli, who instead of Garrett Gerloff had shipped WorldSSP World Champion Andrea Locatelli directly to the works team. Two years before that, Sandro Cortese had become WSSP Champion and then joined the B-Team GRT Yamaha. Despite two crashes in the second rounds of Aragon and Estoril, the Texan is clearly ahead of the Italian in the World Cup intermediate ranking. Therefore, like Rinaldi, he has to deliver soon, otherwise his commitment directly to the works team is considered a wrong decision because there was an alternative, as with Rinaldi and Ducati.

Toprak Raztaglioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti) photographed by us on June 23, 2019, after his second place in the 2nd race of Misano. The Turk had fallen in the rain race the day before, but the day after he was strong in the dry.

The best WSBK drivers in the home of Rinaldi and Locatelli

Not surprisingly, Jonathan Rea is the first to be mentioned in this context. The Northern Irishman won the 526th WorldSBK race on June 21, 2009, on the Ten Kate Honda. This was in the second race and six years later, in his first year with the Greens, the next triumph also followed in the second race. Another 6 wins followed, which means that his mark is already 8, which of course automatically makes the World Cup leader a favorite. This does not calm his opponents down and besides Tom Sykes (4 wins), only Alvaro Bautista has won two of the current WSBK drivers at the Autodromo on the Adriatic Sea. After all, Scott Redding has fond memories of the course known today as the “Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli”. The Englishman achieved one of only two MotoGP podium places in his career on this track. And after his bike under Alvaro Bautista had won almost three times there two years ago, there are no excuses for the Reds at the Italy event.

Scott Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) at his test in Misano in early February 2021 – of course the temperatures are much higher in mid-June, but at least he drove the Ducati Panigale V4R there once because the race was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Who are the main favorites for the only Italy event in 2021?

Of course, based on the statistics and his results from the first two rounds, Jonathan Rea cannot call himself an outsider, but this also applies to Toprak and Scotty. Only with Honda driver Alvaro Bautista things are much different, because here on the Honda he can only hope for top five results after the first two events in 2021. Alex Lowes finished second on a Yamaha two years ago and fourth on Sunday after falling while in the lead in the rain the day before. In the 2017 season he was second behind Sykes and ahead of his current teammate Rea. Exactly that year, Lowes’ teammate at the time, Michael van der Mark, finished fourth. A year before that, he was even on the podium in Misano. He was also very successful there in 2018 as fourth and second, while he was injured a season later because he broke his wrist during training. In addition to the local heroes, we have evaluated the most important drivers who should be among the front-runners.

Doug Polen (Fast by Ferracci Ducati) was the first winner of the WorldSBK in Misano and this in both races – as a privateer he outclassed the factory drivers of the Reds in front of a home crowd and became the first so-called independent world champion in history at the end of the season. Of course, he was taken into the service of the Borgo Panigale factory for the following season and successfully defended his title in 1992. Ducati later even attempted to falsify history in order to subsequently stamp him as a factory driver – but the programs and results sheets in our archive do not lie!
The Misano podium two years after Doug Polen’s double victory with, from left, the eventual world champion Scott Russell (Kawasaki), winner Giancarlo Falappa (called “Il leone di Jesi”, which means the lion of Jesi, his birthplace) and a certain Carl Fogarty (like Falappa on Ducati). For more about the earlier years of WorldSBK, see our richly illustrated history.

The Misano circuit

Italian-born Sandro Cortese has mixed memories of this course. In 2019, we were not far from the point where he ended his race in WorldSBK with a crash in 3rd position in the finish curve. He started from the front row behind Jonathan Rea and the expectations were correspondingly high at the time. Since Misano has been driven clockwise, the route has 6 left and 10 right turns. The longest straight is at the start-finish line at 530 meters. The grandstands offer a total of around sixty thousand spectators. There are also some natural grandstands. The huge range of accommodation options is pleasant for visitors thanks to the proximity of the Mediterranean holiday destination of Rimini. The current weather report indicates damp conditions, but this may change in over a week.

Aerial view of the course formerly known as the Autodromo di Santamonica, which was rebuilt a few years after Wayne Rainey’s horror accident (the American has been in a wheelchair since then) and was then driven clockwise. Not far from the Adriatic coast and very popular in MotoGP and WorldSBK for many years, but recently one of the routes with the highest ticket prices.

Unless otherwise mentioned, applies to all images (© WorldSBK).