A week in Greece and two days at Misano, this has been Danilo Petrucci's summer break so far. Yesterday evening he concluded a two-day test at the Italian track, “and I'm shattered - he says- but only in as so many words, because this isn't a tough job, I actually had a lot of fun”.
We want to ask the Pramac rider what he was testing, starting with the new fairing that Gigi Dall’Igna has promised for the second part of the year, but he has been instructed to keep quiet. “I can say that I've seen that the engineers haven't held back, giving me so much material to test - he says - Spending so much time on the bike served as useful training, on the first day I completed 90 laps, the second 77". He's not saying any more, so it's time for a change of subject.
Daniele Romagnoli, your crew chief, give you an 8 for this part of the season. What do you think?
“I didn't know, it's a good grade. We've done some really good stuff, particularly in the last four races. I think he's given me a good grade also to motivate me ahead of the second part of the season".
What mark would you give yourself?
“A little less, as I'm ambitious and know that I still need to take a step to be in the elite group of MotoGP riders. This year I've moved up a step, but there's one more to make to be consistently up there with the best”.
But it hasn't gone badly…
“At Mugello really well, while at Barcelona I pushed too hard and made a mistake in the end. I was fast at the Sachsenring but something happened, something we didn't understand, though by looking at the tyre at the end of the race it seems clear that it had problems”.
The year didn't start so well, how come?
“I was a little conditioned by the new bike, I had a lot to test and this caused us to lose time over race weekends. But the Ducati has proved competitive and since Le Mans we've been able to find stability”.
In Ducati you have a factory bike but you're not in the factory team, why didn't you choose Aprilia?
“Because I like to do things properly, and it wasn't the right time. Ducati is doing a great job and I feel as if I'm part of the project, this test proves that. I believe I'm important to them and I wouldn't have wanted to walk out now. If I'd chosen another path, I think that the second part of the season would turn out differently”.
But Aprilia had offered you a great deal…
“I repeat, I like to do things properly and so personally it makes more sense to go with a two-year contract, to have greater continuity. For 2019 all the bikes will become free and I'm not closing any doors, my main goal that year is to still be riding the red bike... but the 'real' one, on the factory team. I know Ducati cares about me, if I do well I might be able to enter the factory team, otherwise I'll change jobs (he laughs)”.
It would be the ultimate consecration, but you say you're still missing something.
“In the last races I've battled with the best, but I need to be more consistent. We're talking about riders who have won world titles, while I have yet to even win a race”.
You're not being too negative?
“No, because I know I still have to take that step, I don't think they are really scared of me yet”.
You admit to being on the right path at least?
“In the last 4 races, I've practically started on the front row every time (he refers to Mugello where he was moved down due to a small mistake in qualifying) and so that's positive but I also know I need more experience. I think I've grown, I know I'm the best Danilo I've ever been and having a factory bike has helped me to progress".
You often say that until a few years ago, you were racing to not finish last…
“Even in 2014, but I've always believed in myself, otherwise I wouldn't have got anywhere. I've always thought that my place was at the front, even if for many I am perhaps a new entry, in the sense that they don't expect certain results from me, having seen my first 3 years in MotoGP”.
So you promote yourself?
“In the last two and a half years I admit that I've grown... but I still haven't done shit! (he laughs)”.