News 15 Jan 2018

Current STK1000 champion Rinaldi steps up to WorldSBK

European rounds on the 2018 agenda for Racing Junior Team.

Image: Supplied.

Italian talent Michael Ruben Rinaldi will switch to the Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) for 2018, making the move with his Racing Junior Team.

The 22-year-old will ride a Ducati Panigale R this season after winning last year’s European Superstock 1000 Championship aboard similar machinery, picking up three wins along the way.

“I’m obviously very happy for this opportunity,” Rinaldi said. “To be able to keep racing with the Racing Junior Team after two memorable seasons and to step up to WorldSBK with a competitive bike and such a great crew is a dream come true.

“We will start our season in Aragon, so we’ll try to use the extra time available to be even more prepared. The goal is first and foremost to learn as much as possible and to improve both my riding and my working approach, but clearly we’ll also try to show our potential, because we have all the necessary tools to achieve good results.”

The team will run alongside the factory Ducati division of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri, but will only contest the European rounds of the championship this year. There are plans to evaluate a full campaign from 2019.

“When, two years ago, we decided to double our commitment and create the Racing Junior Team, our main goal was to select young talents and give them a chance to develop as riders,” commented team principal Stefano Cecconi. “After taking the Superstock 1000 title last year with Michael, the rider’s and team’s debut in WorldSBK was the obvious next step to take on this path.

“We can count on the experience gained with the official team in the past three seasons on track with the Panigale R, whose potential is clear. For us it will be a season during which to learn and grow, but we’re also confident about our chances to put ourselves in the limelight when the opportunity comes.”