The opening race of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship ended with an excellent ninth place for the Barni Racing Team rider Michael Rinaldi.
Rinaldi was one of the biggest surprise of the first Tissot Superpole of the season. By his 1’30.390 he conquered the eighth place in the starting grid. He secured the third row for race 1 and also for the new-brand Superpole Race on Sunday morning.
In the qualifying session Rinaldi seemed to be immediately at ease in the quick-lap time scoring 1'31.128 with 13 minutes to go. With the soft tyre he managed to break the 1’31 wall posting his lap record in 1’30.390.
On his first time out on track at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit the young talent from Rimini was the protagonist of an excellent comeback after a scary start. A contact few hundred metres away the start put Rinaldi out of the boundaries of the track and he was forced to turn off the throttle. Moved back into fourteenth place the flagbearer of the team from Bergamo took his rhythm around 1’32.5 for the first part of the race, sanwiched in a group of four riders. From mid-race he set a scintillating pace managing to overtake Mercado first (lap 15), than Laverty (lap 16) and Torres (lap 17). With only two laps to go Rinaldi signed his fastest lap in race 1’32.207. Thanks to this he was able to catch and to overtake Davies conquering a positive ninth place under the checkered flag. The 22 years old from Romagna made a vast improvement throughout all sessions from tests to this race 1 and now put in his pocket seven points in Championship standings.
Tomorrow he will face one of the news of this season: the Superpole Race, a new race format with only ten laps which will decide the starting grid of race 2.
Marco Barnabò - Team Principal
«The contact at the start was really a pity, because the pace showed by Michael would have allowed him to stay in the group ahead. The team did a great job managing to find the right set-up not only for the quick-lap time, but also for the race. The rider had a bit of trouble with the full tank, but from mid-race he rode very good. I'm positively surprised because with a brand-new bike, an unknown track and new suspensions, I did not expect this result».
«We can be satisfied for the result because it was my first race here in Australia. I am very happy for the work done both in the tests and during free practice sessions because it allowed us to be fast in the last part of the race. The initial phase, however, was a bit too slow and this compromised the result. We know that tomorrow we can start from a good base and we will try to get something more».