Michael Ruben Rinaldi will step up to the factory Aruba.it Ducati team for the 2021 WorldSBK Championship after he was confirmed to be replacing Chaz Davies in the official factory.
Rinaldi will be paired with Scott Redding – who is mid-way through a two-year contract – as a reward for several eye-catching performances on the privateer Go Eleven Ducati, not least his maiden victory at Motorland Aragon.
Rinaldi’s arrival means Davies will be exiting the factory set-up from this weekend’s 2020 WorldSBK season finale in Estoril after seven seasons and multiple victories.
Marking something of a return to the Aruba.it fold after competing in a selection of races in 2018 under its ‘Junior’ arm, the Italian – who has three podiums from 2020 under his name and is seventh in the standings – is thrilled to be getting his big break as a factory rider.
“After an exciting journey in Ducati, joining the official team is an honour for me, as well as confirmation of the quality of the work done over the years. My first target will be to repay, through the results, the trust that has been given to me. For an Italian rider, racing with Ducati is an extraordinary feeling, and I am sure that the passion of the Ducati people will give me an extra boost.
“I would like to thank Stefano Cecconi and the Aruba family who have always believed in me, and Daniele Casolari, Serafino Foti and the whole Feel Racing for supporting me over the years. A special thought to Claudio Domenicali, Gigi Dall’ Igna and Paolo Ciabatti for having involved me in this new project. Finally, I would like to involve the Ramello family, Denis Sacchetti and all the guys in the Go Eleven team in an ideal embrace.
“Thanks to them, I was able to make an important quality leap that allowed me to reach this great goal. And of course, I would like to thank my family for having supported me from the beginning together with Germano Bertuzzi whose support has been fundamental. I feel I can promise them all my utmost commitment to achieving great results together”
What next for Chaz Davies after Ducati WorldSBK axe?
Davies has been a linchpin for Ducati over the years, coming on board in 2014 as the manufacturer attempted to get back on form after the first generation Panigale proved a disappointment on track.
However, Davies would steer Ducati back to success and by 2015 he was challenging Jonathan Rea for the title. Indeed, for some time he was Rea’s most convincing challenger week-in, week-out and would finish runner-up to the Ulsterman in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
The swap to the Panigale V4 though presented issues for Davies to adapt, a problem magnified by the instant success of first Alvaro Bautista in 2019 and then Scott Redding in 2020. Though he has gotten on top of this in races – scoring three wins since – his poor results in qualifying often made the races a harder than normal slog for him.
While he looks set to seal third overall this weekend in Portugal, Davies heads into the off-season without a WorldSBK ride and minimal options available to him.
Of the factory teams, only a spare berth at Honda is considered available, but even then the manufacturer has intimated it will retain Leon Haslam.
If he goes down the satellite entry route, he could swap with Rinaldi at Go Eleven, while the Barni Racing team has shown podium winning form in the past too. Though Yamaha said he wasn’t in the running for its factory ride, Ten Kate Racing could potentially swell to include him alongside Loris Baz (presuming the Frenchman stays), while BMW is likely to enter its own satellite backed entry as well.