Valentino defined Petrucci as "the surprise" for this winter during the tests, and, actually, Danilo has up to now shown that he didn't end up in the official Ducati team by chance. The rider from Terni was clearly the best of the Ducati riders in Qatar and, above all, he brought a convincing race simulation to the table.
"I was hoping for a certain performance, but especially to succeed at all costs if I want to stay on this team," said Petrucci. "This has to be my level. Actually, I have to improve."
The fact remains that Danilo has been playing a leading role in an interesting growth.
"On one hand, it was because I entered the official team, mine, after all. Also, I have to thank Dovizioso who helped me," he continued. "I came from Pramac, an excellent team. But, here, I can work with more tranquility and method. There are many more people, and this means having lots of information to take advantage of. In a certain sense, it's easier."
Petrucci has mainly focused on the pace of the race these days, trying to better manage the rear tire, which historically is his weak point. The results have been encouraging.
"I have improved in this respect, thanks to Dovi's advice and changing my riding style," he explained. "I'm not perfect, yet, but it went well, although I know we'll have to wait for more demanding tracks, like Austin, to get the final confirmation."
Meanwhile, he enjoys his race simulation.
"Like at Sepang, I took off with Andrea, and I was in front for the first 11 laps, keeping a pace of 1:55," he said. "Then it was Dovi's turn to take the lead, but he stopped after 4 laps. I think he overheated his tires staying behind me. Left alone, I returned to my time."
Everything went according to plan, but there is still a doubt in Danilo's mind.
"The flying lap performance is a question mark," he revealed. “It wasn't a priority today, and, in fact, I have two new tires left in the pit. But it'll be important to be fast even in that situation. The first two rows in the qualifications are the goal towards the victory. Right now, it seems to me that there are about ten riders that can aim for the podium."
Who are the most dangerous?
"Vinales and Rins are the fastest, then Marquez, Dovizioso, Valentino, Lorenzo. And me? I prefer placing myself at the end. If I have to be a surprise, I want to be it in the race," he laughed.