Danilo Petrucci has an excellent tradition to carry on at Le Mans. In 2018 and 2019 on the French track he scored his first podium of the season and this would be the perfect time to renew the tradition. At Barcelona Petrucci showed some good signs of recovery, but a classic demonstration of pride is required to show that the first part of this 2020 season can be put behind him.
However, while it is true that Barcelona put a bit of a smile on his face, it is just as true that at Montmelò Danilo had to tackle a difficult situation, because his Ducati GP20 was often the slowest of the four on the track in terms of top speed. A big problem on the long Barcelona straight and a question that needs to be answered.
"Here at Le Mans in the last two years I have always scored my first podium of the season - said Petrucci - so it would be nice to continue like this! It would be a good moment; I feel good after Barcelona where I found some good sensations again. I'm a bit worried because I noticed in Austria that my bike was not as fast as the others on the straight and we have to understand why. In Barcelona this kept me away from the podium, but here at Le Mans the top speed is not that important, so in my opinion we can have a good race. I would like to follow the saying ‘good things come in threes’ regarding the podiums.
There is also a strong risk of rain and you have always been good in the wet…
"Yes, but we can't do anything about the weather. I would absolutely not want mixed conditions, a bit dry and wet. I would like to run in dry conditions and that's all, but if there was water it wouldn't be a problem for me. However, it's not a rule that I go fast in the wet. I just hope it's not mixed, with a lot of water I can be fast, but if there's not much water I'm not among the best. I hope to be fast in all conditions ".
There are also some doubts about the tyres Michelin has brought. Do you think you will have some problems?
"As in Barcelona, here and also in Aragon in my opinion there will be only one tyre we can use. Maybe in Spain it will not be like this, but in the past it happened that we found it so cold in the morning and were not able to work on all the tyres. It’s something that makes you struggle. Here in France in 2019 we were all forced to ride with the soft tyres both front and rear in the race. "
What can you say about testing in Portimao?
"I've always liked Portimao a lot, I've already been there four times with both the Superstock 600 and 1000. In 2011 I won my last race there with Ducati before moving to MotoGP and I'd like to do the same, also because when we race it will be my last race with the Ducati. It would be a great way to end this adventure. Yesterday I really enjoyed riding it with the Superleggera V4, a bike that is like an airplane. I lapped half a second faster than when I raced there with the Superstock 1000 which was a real race bike. I lapped I think a couple of seconds slower than the SBK bike. We didn't touch the suspension, it's an astronomic bike. Even the track, which has been resurfaced, is even more beautiful. There are still some bumps in the last two corners which I fear can be felt a lot with the MotoGP bike, but I enjoyed it a lot. "
Do you think the Superleggera V4 is much closer to a MotoGP bike than the 1098R with which you won your last race in Portimao?
"The Barni team’s 1098 R that I had in 2011 was a crazy bike. One of the best bikes I've ever ridden. It was a very different concept of a motorcycle from a MotoGP. Just think that it had a twin-cylinder engine, the trellis frame, standard Pirelli tyres. Yesterday I rode the Superleggera V4 with the national trophy Michelins, which are non-road tyres but also used in Endurance. The impressive thing is the engine, which is really close to that of a MotoGP. As a concept it is still slightly different, because the Panigale has a load-bearing engine, it does not have a perimetric frame like the MotoGP bike. But we lapped with times that were very close to those of SBK and also to those of MotoGP ".
Close enough to match the times set by the MotoGP testers?
"Yesterday at the start of the day, when the track was still very shiny because it had recently been asphalted, at the beginning we were lapping faster with the road bikes than the riders with the MotoGP bikes. Because those are really stiff bikes, the tyres are also very stiff and you need a lot of strength to turn them. Without grip they are unusable. Then the Superleggera V4 in terms of electronics is awesome, it has a lot of adjustments. More or less the same as we have on the MotoGP. You can adjust everything, from the dashboard. It is really usable by anyone, from the amateur to the racer. Andrea and I didn't touch a click yesterday and we rode very hard, there are lots of adjustments. In terms of electronics it can be used by both the racer and the amateur, it really impressed me. I hadn't ridden on a production bike for a long time, we wouldn't have started last in Superpole SBK either. Too bad they do it in a limited series and they are already finished, otherwise I would have had one. "