Michael Ruben Rinaldi admits that his late-season World Superbike form will not be good enough to satisfy Ducati's expectations next year, when he moves up to the factory team.
Italian rider Rinaldi was given the call-up to replace Chaz Davies at the factory Ducati squad in 2020 after a promising campaign aboard the satellite Go Eleven Panigale V4 R.
He scored his first WSBK win at Aragon on his way to seventh in the championship, best of the independent riders, and had his first proper outing as a works rider in the test that followed last month's Estoril season finale (pictured top).
However, Rinaldi's form tailed off in the final three rounds of the year as he failed to finish higher than sixth, while Davies enjoyed a late-season revival that carried him to two race wins and a clear third place in the standings behind teammate Scott Redding.
Rinaldi's step up to the factory team was announced just before the Estoril round, but the 24-year-old denied that there was immediate pressure to justify the decision by finishing ahead of Davies, who signed off on his tenure with the team with a win in Portugal.
"We have to remember that we are a small team, small budget, with the 2019 bike, so it’s normal that a rider like Chaz is front of me most of the time," said Rinaldi. "The normal situation is the factory riders are ahead.
"This year, sometimes it happened the opposite, and this is why I have a seat in the factory team next year. If they are in front of me, it’s [because it's] normally like this."