Danilo Petrucci says he was certain he wouldn’t be retained by Ducati beyond the 2020 MotoGP World Championship ‘at the end of last year’, admitting that being dropped before the start of this one affected his motivation.
Petrucci scored a remarkable second career MotoGP victory over the weekend in Le Mans after prevailing in tricky wet conditions, the Italian doing so by leading every lap in a tense fight that included his Ducati counterparts Andrea Dovizioso and Jack Miller.
The result is represents some personal redemption for Petrucci, who came into the delayed 2020 season knowing he wouldn’t be retained by the manufacturer for 2021, despite the fact Dovizioso himself wasn’t confirmed in the other seat and who would later go on to announce his exit too.
While Ducati had initially hoped to use the opening rounds of the original 2020 calendar to decide between Petrucci and Jack Miller, the final decision instead came in May. Ducati says it based its choice on the form of 2019 because while Petrucci was a race winner last year – famously at Mugello – he struggled to match those highs thereafter.
Though Petrucci accepts his form coming to Le Mans hasn’t been strong enough either – his erstwhile 2020 best peaking with a seventh place finish – he believes a decision was taken well before it was announced anyway, potentially going back as far as 2019.
“At the end everybody needs to make his moves,” he said in a nod to Ducati’s decision. “First of all, I understood it was a strange year because we hadn’t raced, but it wasn’t nice to lose the seat before the season started.
“It doesn’t give you the right motivation for racing in that team for this year and I felt already that I was not already on the list at the end of last year.
Petrucci’s Ducati exit after two seasons – and now at least two wins – with the factory effort came after a long slog getting into that position, including four years with Pramac, which he says adds to that frustration of his long goodbye.
“My story with Ducati was so long, I had to fight a lot with riders to get that seat, so maybe people in Ducati had other ideas.
“I understood that and at the end it is better like this, I am happy to win again and recover a good feeling on the bike that can help me to finish of the podium in the remaining races of this year.
Despite the relative lack of options available on the 2021 MotoGP grid, Petrucci says he is pleased others ‘trusted’ him in a veiled nod to KTM, who have signed him to compete with Tech 3 Racing for 2021.
Ironically, that space only opened up because Pol Espargaro was snapped up by Repsol Honda, which in turn meant Alex Marquez – who together with Espargaro shared the podium with Petrucci in Le Mans – knew he would be shifted from Repsol to LCR for 2021 before he’d even made his MotoGP debut.
“Fortunately, other people trust me. For sure I have to thank all of my team and people at home that always trusted me and believed I am good riding the bike, this is the proof I can win MotoGP races.
“Like me he [Alex] lost his factory seat before the season starts, he is a world champion and he wants to prove he is really fast in MotoGP.
“In the end it was down to who wants to win more and fortunately he started at the back and I started on the front row, plus Dovi helped me to stop him even if it wasn’t on purpose.”