Hot topic: Who will partner Bautista at the factory Ducati team in 2023?
The name of Bautista’s teammate is yet to be confirmed for 2023 but both Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Axel Bassani were asked about their future in France…
Only one factory seat remains available for the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with Aruba.it Racing – Ducati still yet to reveal who will partner Championship leader Alvaro Bautista next season. Michael Ruben Rinaldi is the incumbent having spent both the 2021 and 2022 seasons at the factory team, but his place is yet to be confirmed.
After an impressive season with Team Goeleven in 2020, Rinaldi moved to the factory team for 2021 and remained for the 2022 season. In 2021, Rinaldi took seven podiums including three wins for Ducati and took fifth place in the standings while he currently sits fourth in the 2022 Championship with three podiums to his name. Discussing his future in France, Rinaldi remained tight-lipped about his future.
He said on Thursday before the round: “I think we will update all the media after this round. Just a few days remaining.” Speaking to the media on Friday, Rinaldi was asked about his future but batted away the question, saying: “I will not answer this question.”
After taking second place in Race 2, his first podium since Misano, Rinaldi alluded to his future when he said: “It’s not easy to fill these shoes. It’s easier to stay at home and judge than prove your potential. When the result doesn’t arrive for a reason, the reason doesn’t matter because it’s like an excuse. It’s very important for my future.”
It’s been a difficult period for me, and this race means a lot. I enjoyed battling with Jonny, with Axel and with Toprak. We were in second place, which is my first podium here in Magny-Cours since STK600. Really happy and I want to dedicate this to the few people who always believed in me and all my crew.”
One rider who might well be riding his way into contention for the factory Ducati seat is Axel Bassani. The Italian took two podiums in France, adding to his one from Catalunya in 2021, while he has been on a rich run of form where he has collected 12 top-seven finishes in 13 races stretching back to Estoril Race 2.
Like Rinaldi, he was asked about his future ahead during the French Round. Giving nothing away about 2023 on Friday, he said: “I’m focussed on this season. For sure, I think about the next season. I will see in the next week. We speak but only speak for the moment.”
Talking about his future after his Race 1 podium, he expressed the importance of beating other Ducati riders: “It’s really important for me to beat the other Ducatis, especially the factory Ducati. I think it’s normal; I want to continue in this way and I hope it’s possible to beat Alvaro and not just Michael.”
Also, after Race 2, Ducati Corse Superbike Technical Coordinator Marco Zambenedetti spoke about the 2023 rider line-up although did not hint at who it might be: “Sorry, but it’s too early to explain our line-up for next year, in the Ducati factory team and also the satellite teams. We are very happy to have a very consistent bike and to give the same bike to all our satellites to give them the possibility to fight for the podium. The decision involves analysis that is wider, and I think it’s not just one race that will decide what is the line-up.”