Let's be clear, without mincing words. Axel Bassani and Michael Rinaldi don't like each other and maybe, let's emphasize maybe, they have never even liked each other. Regarding the relationship between the two, Johnny Rea himself had something to say about the matter last year, at the end of the Most race, when he jokingly said to Bassani: “You and Rinaldi don't like each other, eh? ”.
The reason is very simple: Rinaldi knows that Bassani is a pretender to his official seat. It was last year, when Michael managed to keep his place, snatching the contract renewal as an official rider with a motivation in the name of stability from the Aruba team.
Axel didn't like it at all and in some ways we can understand it. After a season in which he turned out to be the best independent, the Motocorsa rider was hoping for a promotion, but Rinaldi kept his place. If we had been in MotoGP, someone like Gigi Dall'Igna most likely would not have renewed the contract of a rider who was 300 points behind his teammate without even bringing home a victory. Miller, just to give an example, was eliminated with wins, ditto Petrucci the year before.
The fact is that back at the start of this new season we found ourselves back to square one again: Rinaldi called upon to keep his place and Axel strongly intent on wanting to snatch it from him. At Mandalika it was a matter of centimeters that there was no strike in Race 1. The thing was only postponed to Race 1 in Barcelona, when we all know how it ended: Michael entering forcibly in turn 3 and Axel replying at turn 10 with the Romagnolo hitting the deck. Question: if instead of one of them had been Oettl or Petrucci would it have gone differently? We don't know.
What we do know is that in the post-race both Axel and Michael missed a great opportunity to meet up with each other and clear things up. A few words were enough, a handshake, solved there, no big deal. Both anchored in their positions with Rinaldi pointing his finger at Axel, relying on the fact that he is an official rider while he is independent and at the same time Bassani who has no intention of taking half a step towards his opponent to look for a simple approach or a word, despite the fact that they were separated by a few meters in the press room.
It's a shame, really a shame, because sport must be an example and not just about overcoming limits, but above all an opportunity to improve and recognize the merit of others. In this regard, we like to recall the 3,000 metre steeplechase event in Helsinki, when Panetta helped Lambruschini to his feet, because Francesco did not see Alessandro as one less man, but one man down. Behold, a man down!
We strongly recommend that Axel and Michael, before going to bed, have another look at that moment of sport and life before going out together again on the track tomorrow morning for the Superpole Race.