Petrucci's second place finish at Le Mans gives Lorenzo one more push out of the Ducati door. This may be an exaggeration but it's the first thing that came to mind as we watched Danilo celebrating on the podium having run the most mature race of his career thus far. The Italian himself knows this, and is quick to respond to the question, with his usual irony.
“This is the 187th question I've answered on this subject while at Le Mans. I say again, I don't know anything. Ducati knows me very well and I hope they evaluate me by considering the four years we've spent together and not just the last four races. I have an option in their favour which expires at the end of June, I'll await their decision and then, if need be, I'll look around”.
Danilo then receives a round of applause for his final comment on the matter.
“Do you know why Miller and I are, in all likelihood, the frontrunners for the factory team right now? Because we cost less”.
Having dealt with the riders' market, Petrucci talks more about his race.
"As expected, I made a bad start and was lying 5th through the first turn, then I made a small mistake. It wasn't easy to catch up but when I found myself behind Marquez I wasn't taking too many risks. At one point I saw him lose the front, I thought he was in trouble and then... on the next lap he set a record lap”.
At that point, Danilo realised it would be tough, but he didn't give in.
“Also because the tyres didn't really drop and Valentino was pressuring me. Five laps from the end I realised I'd have to risk too much and Rossi had dropped back a bit. So I decided that 2nd would be better than finishing in the gravel".
A wise choice. Particularly considering that the Pramac rider's weekend had not got off to the best start.
“Then I made a tiny change to the Ducati, lowering the front by 3mm. Nothing in life, but in MotoGP that makes the difference between 13th and fighting for the win. Today I needed a couple more tenths to be able to stick with Marquez”.
The important thing is that he's taken a step up, as he did at Mugello last season.
“Maybe the turnaround has come one race early this year. I didn't start the year with fireworks, but I've taken steps forward".
And now it's time for his home round.
“Campinoti (the team owner) told me I have to win. I didn't test last week so maybe I'll be at a disadvantage, but they tell me the Hondas were strong. I'm feeling confident after this result and a podium is always important, though I'm still missing the win".
The standings are also smiling on Danilo, who is now just 5 points from Vinales.
“I'd be happy to finish the year 5th. I don't know who can stop Marc right now, but I think Dovi could have battled with him. The Honda has taken a step forward, but Marquez is the one who's riding it the best”.