Why Petrucci actually may star on his MotoGP return

The information that grand prix profitable former Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci will return to the MotoGP paddock this weekend to exchange the injured Joan Mir at Suzuki has been met with widespread happiness from the Italian’s many followers.

However with a yr out from the championship and restricted expertise on an inline-four machine, there’s no query that he’s bought a giant problem forward of him; until, in fact, the climate decides to lend him a serving to hand.

Petrucci hasn’t raced a MotoGP bike because the finish of the 2021 season at Valencia, when his disappointing time with Tech3 KTM got here to an finish and he bowed out seemingly for good.

Ending the season with solely two prime 10 finishes to indicate regardless of profitable a race the yr prior in Ducati colors, it’s truthful to say that his time with KTM was an unfair ending to an in any other case strong profession.

Since then he’s been on a wild journey, competing in and profitable a stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally as a rookie earlier than heading off to the USA’s home superbike championship MotoAmerica the place, once more as a newcomer, he received 5 races and solely simply missed out on clinching the title eventually weekend’s last spherical at Barber Motorsports Park.

In concept, that’s not an enormous period of time away from MotoGP, and it’s not throughout a time when there’s been any appreciable modifications in the best way that the bike works, with (for instance) no new tyres or important technical developments being launched within the interim.

In brief, whereas he is perhaps rusty, he’s nonetheless race match, and he’s returning to a sequence that received’t really feel vastly totally different from the one he left 10 months in the past.

Nonetheless, whereas the championship may not be too totally different, the bike he’s going to be driving this weekend will probably be very totally different from something he’s been on since his MotoGP profession correctly took off.

Why Petrucci actually may star on his MotoGP return

A V4-engined racer in all however one in every of his 10 seasons within the premier class, it’s a must to go all the best way again to 2013 for Petrucci’s final expertise on an inline-four bike, when he raced a BMW S1000RR-engined Ioda-Suter machine within the CRT class.

That was primarily a manufacturing superbike engine modified in a customized chassis, very totally different from the V4 machines he’s raced since, particularly the extremely experimental Ducati that he piloted first in satellite tv for pc Pramac colors after which in manufacturing unit crimson, throughout a time when the group was pioneering in depth aerodynamics and experience peak gadgets to regulate its huge quantity of energy.

Adapting to the Suzuki, subsequently, may not be simple for him, particularly given the radically totally different emphasis on nook velocity over braking and acceleration that comes from the totally different engine configuration.

Leaping straight onto the bike with no testing received’t be a simple expertise for him, however that is the place touchdown at Suzuki would possibly assist.

As evidenced in solely 33 laps of working on the Misano check this month by MotoE champion Dominique Aegerter, it’s additionally a machine that’s fairly rider-friendly.

Aegerter – who had zero MotoGP expertise – jumped onto the bike for less than a handful of pit exits as an audition for a possible Mir alternative experience at Aragon, and was in a position to instantly go quicker than Suzuki check rider Kazuki Watanabe, who had been on the bike all through the earlier weekend’s grand prix on the observe.

And, with Petrucci not having to waste time studying how Michelin’s MotoGP tyres work as he’s had years on them, it would imply that he’s really in a position to shock folks with simply how quick his studying curve will probably be.

His season spent on manufacturing bikes in America may assist that too. Regardless that he was racing a V4 Ducati primarily based partially on the MotoGP engine, the decrease energy and softer Dunlop tyres would possibly properly assist him make the difference to the softer-than-normal (for a MotoGP bike at the very least) GSX-RR a little bit quicker.

What a profitable adaption seems like is up for debate, in fact. Whereas Petrucci is a MotoGP race-winner, it’s terribly laborious for anybody to shine as a stand-in rider on this ultra-close period and with no testing.


However given the character of the Buriram observe, it’s not fully unreasonable to think about that scoring factors could be potential if the celebrities align.

There’s a large wildcard in the entire weekend equation that may properly work to Petrucci’s favour. The Thai race is earlier within the yr than ever earlier than, and the climate forecast for the Buriram circuit this weekend is heavy rain all weekend lengthy – and if there’s one factor that Petrucci is thought for, it’s his expertise within the rain.

“I hope it would rain perpetually,” Petrucci instructed media on Thursday. “Till Sunday, 4 o’clock [when the race finishes].

“As a result of yeah, at the very least the race is much less bodily, even as a result of the bike – I haven’t had the possibility to take a seat on the bike, however they confirmed me all of the issues and all of the gadgets are in several place and we can not make modification.

“So, I’ve the thumb brake often, and right here the thumb brake is the system for the experience peak! So, it’s even fairly harmful, to push that button contained in the nook once I use the thumb brake. I’ve to repair my thumb on right here and don’t contact it.

“So, yeah, the rain, I hope it would rain. I used to be already so scared once I was coming right here for MotoGP – as a result of right here the race underneath the dry situations, when it’s so sizzling, it’s one of many worst issues {that a} human being can attempt. I hope it would keep like this, as a result of all the pieces is extra gentle, less difficult.”

Petrucci took his final MotoGP race win at Le Mans in 2020 within the rain, and wet-weather brilliance has been (as is the case with many different racers with a background in manufacturing racing) one thing of a trademark of his profession. Quite a few stand-out performances over the course of his decade-long grand prix profession got here because of the situations, akin to his first podium on the 2015 British GP at a time when Pramac getting among the many works bikes was far much less frequent.


Furthermore, he’s going to work with Mir’s skilled crew chief Frankie Carchedi, who has used the data from racing within the British Superbike championship (the place he received the title in 2009 with Leon Camier) to excellent a moist setting that has allowed 2020 world champion Mir to be exceptionally sturdy in damp situations.

Ought to all the pieces fall into place, there’s a really actual risk that Petrucci may obtain fairly a particular consequence.

Nobody is anticipating him to win, in fact, but when Buriram delivers a completely moist weekend, it’ll come as no shock by any means to see Petrucci’s one-off look finish comfortably inside the highest 10.

Leave a Reply