A rollercoaster weekend for Petrucci: what could’ve been after strong pace but several incidents?

Monday, 5 June 2023 08:52 GMT

The Italian rider looked like he could challenge for a maiden WorldSBK podium at Misano but incidents in Race 1 and the Superpole Race ended his charge

The Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) during his first MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship home round at the iconic Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”. The Italian rookie had shown good pace throughout the weekend but incidents in both Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race meant Petrucci did not score as highly as the pace he had suggested he might.

In Friday’s combined classification, Petrucci was third and only four tenths down on pacesetter Alvaro Bautista’s ( Racing – Ducati) time after FP1 and FP2. His pace was strong on Saturday too as he took fourth on the grid in the Tissot Superpole session after posting a 1’33.403s, lapping, again, four tenths down on Bautista’s pole time. This put him in a strong position for Race 1 and, in the early stages, he was fighting with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) for third place.

As the race progressed, Razgatlioglu started pulling away from Petrucci although the gap remained around one second between the pair with Petrucci chasing a maiden WorldSBK podium on home soil. However, his race came to an end on Lap 15 when he crashed out at Turn 8 when he lost the front of his Panigale V4 R, with Petrucci unable to continue in the race and scoring no points when he was on for his best-ever result.

Discussing the Race 1 crash, Petrucci said: “I’m okay. It was a strange crash; I still don’t know why I crashed. I just checked with the team and I was slower compared to the other laps. In general, I wasn’t letting the bike slide into that corner but it’s a problem we have to solve for Sunday because we are there but it’s a bad situation. I was slowing down a bit, but I crashed. I’m so sorry due to all the team the work did this weekend. Fourth position was really good. I tried to stay with Toprak until the end. I don’t remember the last time I crashed in a race.”

In Sunday’s Tissot Superpole Race, the Italian once again started from fourth place and got a good start, but his race started to unravel at Turn 2. He tried to make gains on GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK duo Dominique Aegerter and Remy Gardner, with Petrucci given a Long Lap Penalty for his role in the crash where Gardner retired and Aegerter continued but finished last. After serving his penalty, Petrucci dropped down to tenth and was directly behind the Team HRC pair of Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona. Heading into Turn 8 on Lap 7, Petrucci made contact with Lecuona with the pair retiring from the race and the red flags deployed at the start of Lap 8.

Explaining his two incidents in the Superpole Race, Petrucci said: “It’s been a really challenging weekend. Fortunately, I have nothing broken. When I crashed, I thought I had broken my femur but fortunately nothing is broken. For me, it was not really the right decision. First of all, I’m sorry about Dominique and Remy’s crash. I was on the inside and I think I was a little bit ahead because I just felt Dominique touching the rear end of my bike. Normally, especially in the first laps, they don’t give any penalty. They didn’t want even two laps to even understand the situation. They gave me a Long Lap immediately. At least, I would have preferred to speak with the FIM Stewards and maybe receive a penalty after the race, because, even with the Long Lap Penalty, my race was finished because I came out in tenth position. Then I was behind the two Honda guys. Xavi passed Iker at Turn 8, Iker went a little bit wide and I was there, and we touched. I’m so sorry for Iker. I had no space to go. Unfortunately, we both crashed.”

In Race 2, Petrucci finished in seventh place after a race-long battle with Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK). Discussing this battle, Petrucci said: “With this bike, I’m still struggling to make overtakes. I knew that it was really difficult to pass Andrea. In some corners, he was slower than me, but he had a really good race. He was never wide at any corner. Even if I had better pace, I was stuck behind him. I’m sorry because I think we had the potential to stand on the podium in at least one of the three races but we just leave with a seventh place.”

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