From doubts about racing on Thursday to P6 on Sunday: the story of Petrucci’s epic Misano comeback

Sunday, 16 June 2024 14:59 GMT

Danilo Petrucci suffered some horrific injuries in a training crash before Assen and Misano marked his comeback, where he remarkably claimed a top-six finish

The Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” is a special round for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and that was no different this weekend, especially for Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team). ‘Petrux’ was injured in a motocross training crash back in April, missing the Dutch Round, but he returned in emphatic fashion on home soil to secure three top-ten finishes including sixth in Race 2 on Sunday. This is the story of Petrucci’s epic weekend, from doubts about racing to securing a P6 finish.

THURSDAY’S THOUGHTS: “I can’t say whether I can even make it to the end of Race 1…”

Previewing the weekend, ‘Petrux’ spoke candidly about his return but cast doubts on whether he would be able to make the race. He said: “I’m really happy to be here. I have no big injuries left so I’m almost feeling 100%. I still need a bit of time but I’m really happy to be around in this paddock again. I try to ride my bike again after a few days. It’s quite difficult to accept because 95% of the body’s okay but I have quite a lot of pain in my right shoulder. This puts me in trouble when I brake; I feel a lot of pain when I brake. When I release the brake and I’m on the straight, I don’t feel any pain. It’ll be a big achievement if I can make it through the weekend. My target is to race all three races and finish them. I can’t say whether I can even make it to the end of Race 1. I have no big expectations.”

FRIDAY’S ACTION: “At the end of FP1, I was in trouble… I’ll try to make Superpole and see if I can feel better tomorrow morning”

The #9 returned to WorldSBK action on Friday, securing 14th in FP1 and 12th in FP2. His best time was a 1’34.476s, around a second slower than Friday pacesetter Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). Petrucci and the team opted to miss half of FP2 following the Italian’s feedback after FP1. Reviewing Friday, Petrucci said: “On Friday morning, I was feeling quite good, and not in a lot of pain. At the beginning of the first session, I was okay. The feeling with the bike was not as good as the test we did in May. At the end of the session, I started to feel a bit of pain. At the end of the first session, I was quite in trouble, so we decided to skip the first half of FP2. It’s always hard to imagine the pain you’re going to feel, so when you feel pain regarding the shoulder, it’s always much more than expected. I’m struggling a lot with my shoulder. With a fracture, everything is stable, but there’s a big inflammation. The more you use it, the more you use the muscles and tendons and so on, the more the situation gets worse. I’ll try to make the Superpole and see if I can feel better tomorrow morning and make it to Race 1.”

SUPER SATURDAY: “Firstly, I wanted to finish the race. In the top ten is something unexpected!”

With pain in his shoulder continuing, and after raising doubts about competing in the race, the four-time podium finisher took to the track and stunned everyone by claiming an ‘unexpected’. He received plaudits from all over for his efforts and he reacted, saying: “I was not expecting that much because, on Friday after FP2, I said, ‘maybe it’s not possible to race tomorrow’. Then I wasn’t thinking about it, I was going session by session, lap by lap, corner by corner. I started the race quite well but in the second part of the race, I was not using my right hand anymore because of the pain in my shoulder. I was using my legs to hold me on the bike, but I was really stiff. I was really surprised about the possibility of finishing the race and especially in the top ten; I went over my target. Firstly, I wanted to finish the race. In the top ten is something unexpected.”

SENSATIONAL SUNDAY: “Unbelievable… the last four laps were a nightmare!”

Sunday went even better for the Italian. He backed up his Race 1 P9 with the same position in the Tissot Superpole Race, but Race 2 was another step up. He climbed from ninth on the grid to claim sixth, around 16 seconds down on race winner Razgatlioglu but fought with Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) throughout the 21-lap race. Speaking after Sunday’s action, an emotional Petrucci said: “It’s unbelievable. I didn’t expect to be here. I think, after yesterday, I thought there’d be something wrong. I didn’t know how I did it yesterday! This morning, I woke up, and I didn’t know how I’d make it through two races. In the Superpole Race, the start wasn’t really good. I was worried about crashing. A lot of riders overtook me, but they were really aggressive on each other, so they crashed into each other. I found myself in ninth place after a few laps and said, ‘oh, perfect!’. In Race 2, when I left the pits for the first time, I braked at Turn 4 and felt a lot of pain. I joined the starting grid and said to my team, ‘maybe I do a few laps and see’. It felt like a knife into my shoulder. I had a really good start. The first few corners were okay, and I was able to keep the pace, even if it was really painful. I saw Bassani not far ahead, so I went with him because we were trying to make a gap to the riders behind. He was in trouble, and I was able to pass him, but the last four laps were a nightmare. I switched my mind but when I crossed the finish line, I felt like someone had stabbed my right shoulder. I was in pain. It’s an incredible feeling because it was really painful, but at the same time, I remembered that after the crash that the doctor said, ‘I don’t know if you’ll be able to go on the bike again’, and after two months, I finished sixth. It was a mixed feeling between pain and joy; something that makes me cry!”

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