Danilo Petrucci's weekend at Le Mans was a two-sided weekend. First, on Thursday, with the many questions asked regarding his performance this season and voices regarding the upcoming one, then on the track Friday, Saturday, and Sunday where so many answers were given. Danilo was there and closed the race at the Bugatti in third place, behind an impregnable Marquez and his teammate Dovizioso. And it was precisely against Dovi that Petrucci staged the best scuffle of the race in the final laps. The rider from Forlì handled it, but Petrucci seemed cautious and thoughtful, almost as if he had his handbrake on for fear of doing damage.
"When I was up against Dovi, I thought about what would have happened if we had done what we did in Argentina 2016," (accident between Iannone and Dovizioso at the last turn) stated Petrux. "And there I saw Gigi Dall'Igna's face. I certainly didn't spare myself in the head-to-head, but I was afraid of messing up and throwing both of us out. He was getting better in acceleration and, when braking hard, I never managed to get close to him. I tried."
Did the criticism and rumors regarding a non-renewal of your contract with Ducati after only one year influence the podium?
"I was called into question before I started. Then, it's true, something was missing during the races, but we're talking about a very competitive MotoGP where the only one who can really make the difference is Marquez. After Austin, I spoke to Dovi, and also a little to myself, and I realized that I was creating the pressure on my own. Last year, I would have cut off my little finger to be able to race with this team, and I wasn't enjoying it. Now, everything has changed, but if I won't be with Ducati anymore next year, I want to know that I did everything I could to stay and, if that isn't enough, I won't have harmed anyone."
At Ducati, however, both Dall'Igna and Tardozzi speak of a second and third place that "serves no purpose". What effect does this have on you?
“I think today's result is good for the team, but I understand that the objective was another. It seemed like a funeral in the pit, like at Jerez after the fourth and fifth position. But Andrea and I are giving it our all, and I hope that Dall'Igna and Tardozzi understand this. And I hope they realize that the bike is at its limit, given that it's two races where we get attacked towards the finish of a race. He is actually faster in some points, and I in others. Maybe if we fuse together, we would do better.”
At one point, you were going up against Marquez, then you ended up in the back. Where did you find the pace to get back on track for the podium?
"At the start of the race, Marc didn't keep an exaggerated pace. I didn't want to let him go, but I made some mistakes in Turn 8 and lost several positions. At one point, I was even sixth and with a good gap. There I thought: it can't go wrong today, and I recuperated. This podium is good for me, and I'll be psyched for Mugello. It would be nice to get first and second with Andrea."
We talked about you and Dovi and also how he helped you out during these difficult weeks.
"Andrea is helping me a lot. He wants to put all his stakes on the world championship, but it's difficult with Marquez. Many times I feel like I'm not a stimulus for Dovizioso, but I actually think I am every day. I moved close to where he lives, and I mooch everything from him in Forlì. We train together, and I'm always with his friends and his family. Watching him load my motocross bike onto his van is not a usual thing among riders. At home, we're just two friends.”
AUDIO RECORDED BY MATTEO AGLIO IN LE MANS