Petrucci: "I will be happy when I’m on the podium… incredible to see fans with my shirt and a lot of flags!"
The Italian rookie was speaking at the launch event for June’s Emilia-Romagna Round at Misano, his first time racing in Italy in WorldSBK
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has completed two rounds in 2023 in Australia and Indonesia and now eyes are turning to Europe with the Dutch Round up next. However, before WorldSBK heads to Assen, the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” held an event to launch the 2023 Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round with Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) on hand to discuss his season so far, upcoming tests and the crowds at WorldSBK.
Petrucci returned to the WorldSBK paddock for 2023 after competing in STK1000 and made his debut in WorldSBK at the Australian Round in February and recorded his first top-five finish at the Indonesian Round when he finished fifth in Race 2. The two-time MotoGP™ race winner finished as the best Independent rider in that race but admitted at the Misano launch event that he is aiming higher as he looks for a podium finish in 2023.
Speaking about his first WorldSBK race on home soil at Misano and 2023 as a whole, Petrucci said: “It’s a really nice experience to come back to Misano in a World Championship. For me, it’ll be my first time with the WorldSBK machine. I’m so eager to race this round because it’s something really special. I don’t have any particular expectations for this round. It’s just the expectations I have for the whole season. I want to be on the podium. This is the target. At the moment, it’s difficult, but we are just at the beginning. At the moment, I am not really happy at all but satisfied. I will be happy when I’m on the podium.”
Petrucci also expanded on how special it was for him to see fans wearing his merchandise and waving flags in support of him in Australia as he made his WorldSBK debut at Phillip Island. The Italian also discussed his hopes for the crowd at Misano when WorldSBK visits Italy for the first time this season from the 2nd-4th June for the fifth round of the 2023 campaign.
Petrucci said: “I hope the crowd will be so huge. I already have the experience of a World Championship in the first two rounds in Australia and Indonesia. I missed the fans a lot because, after MotoGP™ in 2020 and 2021 with no public and at the Dakar there is no public. The races are so different. When I went to Australia for my first WorldSBK round, it was so incredible to see, again, all the fans with my t-shirt, my hat and a lot of flags. It was something really, really special. I’m so happy. I think this is the nicest thing, personally, to see a lot of people caring about you. It’s something really nice. I hope, for this round, a lot of people will come.”
With the gap in the calendar, teams and riders are taking advantage of this to take part in some testing to continue refining their packages. Barni Ducati and Petrucci are no different to this and they will have two days at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya where Petrucci will be able to try some new parts on his Panigale V4 R.
Explaining his testing programme, Petrucci said: “We have some tests before Assen, at the end of March in Barcelona. Two days of testing. I think we will have already the new fuel tank which is a little bit lower. At the moment, I’m still not 100% comfortable on the bike. My team and Ducati immediately provided something to let me be faster. At the moment, this is the main thing. We have other small issues, small things to try. I think this is the most important thing to let me be comfortable on the bike. I can be faster with this tank.”
Team Principal Marco Barnabo, also at the event, said: “The level in WorldSBK is very high and Danilo is in his first year, so it's tough. We are working to adapt the bike to his needs, the bike has been developed for two little and light riders and it doesn't help us. In Indonesia, he was more confident about tyres and so in the next test in Barcelona we want to make a step forward ahead of the Dutch Round. In Barcelona, we'll work towards the rider's position in order to have him lower on the bike and moving him back. Danilo says he wants a podium, he misses some confidence in pushing hard in the first laps while the other ones know the bike and the tyres. Assen is a track that he knows, and he expects more... I'd prefer leaving home with no expectations as in Indonesia: we didn't have expectations and it went well.”
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