Petrucci after MotoGP™ comeback: "Like a big gift… I’ll remember it for the rest of my life!"
WorldSBK rookie Danilo Petrucci returned to the MotoGP™ paddock at Le Mans and scored 11th place in Sunday’s Grand Prix
While the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship enjoyed a weekend break after a two-day test at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”, one rider was busy racing in MotoGP™ for the factory Ducati team at the 1,000th Grand Prix at Le Mans. Danilo Petrucci received a call-up to ride for the Ducati Lenovo Team in place of the still-recovering Enea Bastianini in France, with Bastianini sustaining an injury in the season-opening Portuguese Grand Prix.
Petrucci raced for the factory Ducati team previously and claimed two victories, at Mugello and Le Mans, before making the switch to KTM for 2021. He returned to Ducati machinery in 2022 in MotoAmerica where he fought for the title and remained on the Panigale V4 R in 2023 when he joined the Barni Spark Racing Team. During the Catalunya Round, it was announced that Petrucci would race for the factory Ducati team in MotoGP™ at Le Mans while Bastianini continues his recovery from injury.
Petrucci’s weekend started with Practice 1 on Friday morning and he was 19th in the classification, posting a 1’33.680s before he improved his best time by six tenths in Practice 2, although he remained 19th in the combined classification and was unable to secure a spot straight through into Q2. In Q1, Petrucci posted the ninth-quickest time out of the 11 riders taking part, securing himself a seventh row start and missing out on a place on the sixth row by just a tenth of a second.
The Italian qualified in 19th place for both Saturday’s Tissot Sprint and the Grand Prix on Sunday as he posted a 1’32.092s, lapping around 1.3s slower than teammate Pecco Bagnaia who claimed pole position. In Saturday’s Sprint, Petrucci finished in 16th place in the 13-lap race while he scored points in Sunday’s Grand Prix. In a race of attrition, Petrucci finished in 11th place to take home five points on his return to MotoGP™ action.
Speaking after the race on Sunday, Petrucci said: “I’m really proud. It was like a big gift that I received from Ducati. Proud to be here with the factory Ducati, maybe the best bike I have ever ridden in my life! I’m just sad it’s already Sunday and we’ve already had the Sprint and the race. I would like to ride this bike many more times. The race was quite difficult because the track was not really grippy today, but I enjoyed it, I scored some points, I improved my pace lap by lap. I want to say thanks to the fans. I have been on the podium three times here, won once, and the French crowd has been so nice with me. Also, the MotoGP™ paddock is really nice with me. Many thanks to Ducati for this big opportunity, I will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Watch Petrucci’s rookie WorldSBK campaign unfold in style using the WorldSBK VideoPass!