Petrucci “will never forget” Le Mans MotoGP comeback “gift”

The double MotoGP race winner was drafted in by the factory Ducati squad for last weekend’s Le Mans round to replace the injured Enea Bastianini.

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Petrucci raced with Ducati from 2015 to 2020, taking both of his grand prix wins with the factory squad. He effectively retired from MotoGP at the end of 2021 and now races in World Superbikes with the Italian marque.

He finished 11th in the crash-filled French GP, getting the better of fellow stand-ins Lorenzo Savadori (RNF Aprilia) and Jonas Folger at Petrucci’s former KTM-backed Tech3 squad.

Admitting he was “disappointed” on Sunday to have already finished the weekend, Petrucci says the 2023 Ducati is “the best bike I have ever ridden in my life”.

“It was unbelievable, because coming back to MotoGP with this bike – the best bike I have ever ridden in my life – on this track where I scored three podiums, one win, it was really like a gift,” he said.

“I’m so proud of it and I can only say thanks to Ducati for this big opportunity.

“In the end the race was quite tough, but I was faster than yesterday [Saturday in the sprint].

“I’m just so disappointed it’s already Sunday. Maybe I will not ride this bike again unfortunately, but for sure coming back to Le Mans with all this crowd, with a factory bike, with a team I won with and stood on the podium many times, it is something I will never forget. I’m so happy.”

Danilo Petrucci, Ducati Team

Danilo Petrucci, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Petrucci noted that Ducati has been able to fix all of the issues it used to have with the bike when he last raced with the marque in 2020, which was difficult to get his head around.

“Ducati did a really great job, because they fixed the problems we had in the past,” he added.

“I mean, closing the corner (turning) and the power release in the middle of the corner when the bike is bent.

“Now it’s really difficult to understand when to open the throttle, because the bike is carrying the speed, is closing the corner and you never lose traction.

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“On braking it’s already really good. This weekend I was struggling a bit because I’m not used to opening the throttle so early in the corner because I remember this problem, and especially this year I’m struggling with the Superbike in this point.”

Petrucci rode a Suzuki in place of Joan Mir in last year’s Thailand GP during a 2022 season in which he became the first MotoGP rider ever to win a stage on the Dakar Rally, and also finished runner-up in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.

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