Chaz Davies replaced at Ducati by Michael Ruben Rinaldi for 2021 WorldSBK

Chaz Davies will leave the Ducati team after seven seasons together; Michael Ruben Rinaldi joins Scott Redding for the 2021 WorldSBK season

Chaz Davies, Michael Ruben Rinaldi

This weekend’s 2020 WorldSBK Championship finale at Estoril will be Chaz Davies’ final outing in Ducati colours after the factory outfit confirmed Michael Ruben Rinaldi as its choice for the 2021 WorldSBK season.

Davies, who joined Ducati back in 2014, has achieved 26 wins in red and was a runner-up to Jonathan Rea on three occasions in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

However, he has struggled to get to grips with the Ducati Panigale V4 introduced for 2019 and though he has since clinched three wins and is often a match for new team-mate Scott Redding in race trim, a persistent struggle to get the bike up the order in qualifying has hampered his best efforts.

In his place will come Rinaldi, who lands the opportunity with the factory outfit after a series of eye-catching performances on the privateer Go Eleven Ducati, most notably at Motorland Aragon when he scored a brace of podiums, including a maiden victory.

“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.”

Rinaldi’s signing is a return of sorts for the youngster after making his WorldSBK debut in 2018 under the ‘ Ducati Junior’ banner, though a disappointing campaign with Barni Racing in 2019 appeared to distance his official ties to the manufacturer by its conclusion. 

Nonetheless, the move to Go Eleven has revived his fortunes and he heads into the finale just 14 points shy of a top five overall.

What next for Chaz Davies after Ducati exit?

Davies was the driving force behind getting Ducati back to its best when the first generation Panigale proved less competitive than expected and for a long time was the only rider able to get on terms with Rea.

However, the arrival of Alvaro Bautista in 2019 and then Scott Redding in 2020 magnified his inconsistent form on the new V4, though it’s unclear if Ducati picked Rinaldi over the Welshman or whether he turned down a deal, which was said to have involved a substantial pay cut.

With Ducati and Yamaha both confirming its rider line-ups for 2021 this week, it leaves only Honda with a question mark over its official line-up. Bautista is expected to remain, but while Leon Haslam is also expected to be retained, it may think again now the prospect of signing Davies is available.

There are a bevy of satellite options open too though, not least Rinaldi’s now vacant seat at Go Eleven and the similar Barni Racing set-up with available rides now if he wanted to remind the manufacturer what it would be missing potentially.