The MotoGP™ Grand Prix winner has been a solid top ten runner in WorldSBK already and is now knocking on the door of podiums in just his second round
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has seen new names come onto the grid and straight away, it’s been a prosperous start to a new chapter of his career for Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team). The Italian is in his maiden campaign in World Superbike and in just his fourth race, he’s managed to conquer the top five. What’s particularly impressive is that it was Petrucci’s first time ever at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit, and he seemingly got on well with what hadn’t been a Ducati circuit previously.
Starting seventh and heading up the third row of the grid, ‘Petrux’ got a good start and was fourth on the opening lap. In the battle for the podium, he was soon passed by a charging Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), who was soon up into third and ahead of Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), with all three Italian riders doing battle. Petrucci dropped off the battle for the podium and was down to seventh on Lap 6, when Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and teammate Alex Lowes got ahead. However, the Kawasakis both dropped right off the pace in the second half of the race, with Petrucci coming back into P5 on Lap 16, ultimately finishing ahead of a fast-charging Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) by just over a second.
Talking about his first top five in WorldSBK, Petrucci said: “I didn’t expect to be so strong in the race. Friday was a tough day; the track is such a difficult track with just one line. You pay quite a lot with a small mistake. This morning, we made some adjustments, and everything was in the right direction. I had a good start. I was quite scared about the tyre wear, so I was a bit too conservative at the beginning and I had too many people pass me. In the end, I found my rhythm. I had a good battle with Jonny, and it was a pleasure and a pride for me to fight with a I don’t know how many times World Champion… too many times World Champion! I tried to follow Bassani, but I had too few laps and I was suffering a lot in the heat.”
For the Barni Spark Racing Team, it’s also the return to the top five after a long period of time. With just six top ten finishes from the last three seasons. Their last top five came in the form of Michael Ruben Rinaldi in 2019 with fifth place at Misano in Race 2, when they were top Ducati finisher. In Race 1 of Mandalika this year, they were the third Ducati home after race winner Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Independent rival Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing). Petrucci set his fastest lap of the race on Lap 17, showing that his pace was strong throughout the full race distance.
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