The 2021 WorldSBK rider line up is starting to solidify, as announcements start to trickle out of the World Superbike paddock. In the last few days, Yamaha and Ducati have announced their rider line ups for next season.
Today, Ducati finally presented Michael Ruben Rinaldi as partner to Scott Redding in the factor Aruba.it Racing team. Rinaldi has impressed in the Go Eleven squad this year, not least by winning Race 1 and ending on the podium in the Superpole race and Race 2 of the Teruel round earlier this year. Ducati have been cultivating Rinaldi for a few years with a view to moving up to the factory team for some years now.
Rinaldi's promotion means there is no room for current rider Chaz Davies. Davies has been with Ducati since 2014, and has struggled to match the form he showed on the V-twin on the Panigale V4R. At the moment, Davies is without a seat, and no clear ride for him to take. There is a chance he could end up beside Alvaro Bautista on the Honda CBR1000RR-R, but that is far from certain.
A few days earlier, Yamaha announced they would be moving newly-crowned WorldSSP champion Andrea Locatelli up to the Pata Yamaha factory WorldSBK squad, to replace the departing Michael van der Mark. Locatelli's promotion is logical, given the way the Italian has utterly dominated the World Supersport category, winning 11 of the 13 race so far. Locatelli will join Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Locatelli's move to the Pata Yamaha squad means that Garrett Gerloff will remain with the GRT Yamaha Junior team for another season. Gerloff will be joined by Kohta Nozane, Yamaha's leading rider in the Japanese All-Superbike championship. Nozane has raced in the FIM EWC endurance championship with the YART team, and is one of two MotoGP test riders for Yamaha, alongside Katsuyuki Nakasuga. The GRT team will get 2021-spec Yamaha R1s, given them identical machinery to the factory Pata Yamaha squad. Loris Baz will continue in the Ten Kate Yamaha squad.
Below are the press releases from Yamaha and Ducati:
Michael Ruben Rinaldi will ride the official Ducati Panigale V4 R of the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team in the 2021 WorldSBK season
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team is pleased to announce that the Italian rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi - alongside teammate Scott Redding - will defend the colours of the Italian squad in the 2021 WorldSBK season with the official Ducati Panigale V4 R.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi was born in Rimini on 21st December 1995 and started racing with the minimoto when he was 7 years old, winning the Italian championship in 2006. After winning the Italian Sport Production Championship in 2011, in 2014 he faced his first international experience in the European Superstock 600 championship, which closed as runner-up in 2015. In 2016 Rinaldi rode the Ducati Panigale R of the Aruba.it Racing - Junior team in the SuperStock 1000 FIM championship, finishing sixth and then conquering the European Champion title at the end of the following season. With the Aruba.it Racing - Junior team, Michael Ruben Rinaldi also made his WorldSBK debut in the 2018 season, racing only in European rounds and then competing in all events of the 2019 Championship with the Barni Racing Team. In the current season, Rinaldi obtained his first success in WorldSBK with the Panigale V4 R of the Go Eleven team in Race-1 at Aragon, round that saw him finish on the podium also in the Superpole Race (P3) and Race-2 (P2).
Stefano Cecconi (Team Principal Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)
"It's with great enthusiasm that we welcome Michael to our team. It is a source of great satisfaction for us as well as a confirmation of the goodness of the project we undertook five years ago with the Junior team. Rinaldi himself was one of the great protagonists, achieving important results: the same results we expect him to achieve from next season on. A big thank to Chaz Davies for all the years we have spent together since we decided – together with Aruba.it - to embark on this fascinating adventure and during which a bond of deep respect and trust was created. The affection for the man and the rider will always remain intact, and for this reason, we want to wish Chaz the best for the future, both inside and outside the track".
Luigi Dall' Igna (General Manager of Ducati Corse)
"We are pleased to welcome Michael Ruben Rinaldi to the official team. This year Michael has shown great competitiveness, crowned by the Aragon victory, and has always been fighting for top positions. We believe that the time has come for him to join the official team and we are convinced that he has a bright future ahead of him. I want to thank Chaz, who has been an excellent ambassador for our brand over the past seven years and has achieved some very important results with us: 27 victories plus another 59 podiums finish and three consecutive second places in the world championships. We will try to close in the best way our adventure together in the next race weekend in Estoril".
Michael Ruben Rinaldi
"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".
Yamaha Confirms Exciting Young Rider Line-Up for 2021 WorldSBK Campaign
Yamaha Motor Europe is delighted to confirm that the reigning FIM Supersport World Champion Andrea Locatelli will join Toprak Razgatlıoğlu at the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team for the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship campaign. With Garrett Gerloff remaining at the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team for 2021, where he will be joined by Japanese ace Kohta Nozane, it means that Yamaha will field one of the youngest rider line-ups in the championship.
Locatelli has enjoyed a stellar maiden WorldSSP season with the Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team, scoring a record-breaking 11 victories that saw him seal the title with two rounds to spare in Barcelona. Prior to this year’s success, the 23-year-old Italian arrives with six years of Grand Prix experience, in which he took a pair of podium finishes in the 2016 Moto3 championship.
On his WorldSSP debut, Locatelli scored a dominant victory in Phillip Island and continued to make waves after the season resumed, winning the next eight races in a row and taking his pole position tally to six, while last time out in Magny-Cours he broke another record, this time for most points scored in a single season. For 2021 the Italian will step up to the Pata Yamaha squad to partner Phillip Island race-winner Razgatlıoğlu, who remains in contention for third in the standings ahead of the Estoril finale.
Gerloff joined the WorldSBK championship from an impressive stint in the United States, in which he was crowned the MotoAmerica Supersport champion in both 2016 and 2017 and scored four victories on his way to third place in the 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike standings. The American has impressed with his quick adaptation to the WorldSBK championship and has been fully integrated into the GRT Yamaha squad, which for 2021 will be running the latest-spec Yamaha R1 machinery, identical to the Pata Yamaha bikes.
Throughout 2020, the 25-year-old continued to improve and claimed a breakthrough podium with a scintillating performance in Barcelona WorldSBK Race 2, while he also showed race-winning potential in the opening race at a wet Magny-Cours on his first visit to the circuit. After a debut season disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic, remaining with GRT Yamaha for 2021 will provide Gerloff with the stability and familiarity that will be all-important as he gains experience at circuits he's yet to race at.
The American will be joined at the GRT Yamaha team by 2020 MFJ All-Japan Road Race JSB1000 Championship leader Nozane, who will make his debut in the WorldSBK championship next year. The Japanese rider was the 2013 J-GP2 Class champion with Yamaha and is a multiple race-winner in the competitive JSB1000 series. This year, Nozane leads the championship having won every race so far, with just two double-header rounds remaining.
Alongside his national experience, the 25-year-old has also contested the FIM Endurance World Championship with the Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team and boasts a MotoGP outing with Yamaha in the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi.
Andrea Locatelli - Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team
I’m very proud and thankful to start this new adventure with Yamaha, it’s an important step for me after a great first year in the WorldSBK paddock. Thanks to Eric de Seynes, President of Yamaha Europe, Road Racing Manager Andrea Dosoli and Pata Yamaha Team Principal Paul Denning for trusting in me. I’m very excited to start working with the new team and my new crew chief Andrew Pitt, he’s a two-time world champion and has done a great job with Pata Yamaha. I’m also really looking forward to getting testing started, it’ll be the first time riding the Yamaha R1 for me and I can’t wait to get my preparations for the 2021 season underway.
Garrett Gerloff - GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team
I’m just super excited to be staying with the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team for the 2021 season. This year has been incredible; the people I work with on the team are exceptional, really positive and awesome people, so to be able to continue with them is fantastic. It’s going to be nice to hopefully have more of a normal year and to have some consistency in the team will be great for me. I’m really excited to be getting the new Yamaha R1 as well. Hopefully it will give us even more performance to take the fight to the current frontrunners in the championship. Thank you so much to Yamaha for continuing with me and giving me another opportunity to improve and show what I can do. I owe them and my team manager Filippo Conti everything. I think that we can do some great things next year and I’m more focused and determined than ever.
Kohta Nozane - GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team
I’ve felt WorldSBK would be the best place for me to keep growing as a rider, so I’m really happy to get a chance to race on the world stage again and I can’t thank Yamaha enough for the opportunity. I’ll be up against the best riders in the world on tyres different to what I use now, and almost all the circuits will be totally new to me, so I know it’s going to be a massive challenge. But, I take pride in being one of Japan’s top riders, so to live up to the expectations of Japanese fans as well as gain the respect of race fans around the world, I want to make my mark right from the start, so I’ll be doing all I can to be ready to race. I’ll be joining the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team and Garrett Gerloff has finished on the podium with them in his rookie season, so I know they’re strong and I can’t wait to work and grow with them next year. We’re in the middle of this year’s All Japan Road Race Championship and I’m leading in the points, so the goal is to come into WorldSBK as the All Japan JSB1000 Champion. My focus from here is on doing my best in the last two rounds of the season to take the title.
Andrea Dosoli - Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager
Yamaha Motor Europe is very excited to introduce this young and exciting rider line-up for the 2021 WorldSBK season. Obviously, this year we bid farewell to Michael van der Mark, who has made a significant contribution to Yamaha's WorldSBK program since joining us in 2017 and whom we wish all the best for the future. Replacing him we have a promising young talent in Andrea Locatelli, who was already a part of the Yamaha family. What he’s achieved in WorldSSP this year is incredible and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can achieve alongside Toprak Razgatlıoğlu in the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team next year. For Garrett Gerloff it was important to offer some stability after a debut WorldSBK season disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic, which is why he will remain with the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team for 2021. He has shown this year that he's capable of fighting at the front, even at tracks he's not familiar with, so we're excited to see what he can do next season on the 2021 specification Yamaha R1 and with a strong team behind him. We’re also delighted to welcome Kohta Nozane, who’s been the standout rider in the All Japan Road Race JSB1000 Championship this year, to the WorldSBK paddock. It’s important for both the series and for Yamaha to have a fast Japanese rider racing on the world stage and it means we’ll have the exciting prospect of having four riders representing three different continents on the 2021 WorldSBK grid.