Danilo Petrucci has finally raised his head and we have to admit that it was something we were looking forward to. In the second Misano weekend he gained direct access to Q2 and took ninth position on the starting grid for tomorrow. At the beginning of 2019 these results would have been warmly welcomed, but given how the first six Grands Prix of the season went, it is legitimate instead to consider this Misano 2 as a turning point for Petrucci's season; a season in which he has shown a tense face too many times in the (virtual) meetings with journalists, while today he finally appeared more relaxed and serene.
Yesterday he told about the initiative taken by Alex Farinelli (read HERE), who called his mother to have a historic banner delivered to be displayed in the stands at Misano. Evidently it worked, because the Petrucci who is preparing to face the second stage of Misano has the potential to finally aim for the positions that he should be fighting for every race weekend.
"Luckily, I have a family that cares a lot about me - underlined Petrucci - who made sacrifices for 20 years to get me here. When I was coming up to Misano my mother called me telling me that I had to believe in myself, that in a world championship in which the leader has 76 points after six races, everything is open. She certainly believed more than me, but now I am beginning to believe in it a little more too. Maybe not about the world title, but about doing the second part of the world championship at the level I want. I'm glad to have so many people who love me, who want me to go well. "
You said you needed to make a clean sweep of things and start having fun again. Did you succeed?
"I made a general reset on a technical and mental level. I told myself that now I have to ride this bike, without touching anything. I want to get to know it well, and it's never easy. I'm still at the beginning of this new path, but I'm positive. The difference with the past is that in Q2 all the riders are in half a second. To emerge you have to bring out the maximum, you have to be in good shape, really in shape. This year with the riders who are often in Q1 you have to be a superhero to stay ahead. We have never seen such short classifications; you have to be at 100% because 99% is not enough to be competitive ".
Do you think the turning point has finally arrived?
"After Austria I went through the most difficult period of my career because you never know exactly what affects your results the most, whether it is technical or even mental. I must say that I am happy to be back in good harmony with the bike, I feel good in the saddle and this is really important. Tomorrow I have to have a good race but compared to usual I think I can be positive. In 2019 the third row would have been a terrible result. But for now we have to take this and have a good race ".
How did you find harmony with the bike, what has changed in your set-up work?
"This season we have focused a lot on the electronic aspect, especially as regards the engine brake setting. But yesterday we analysed the data in a way that we had never used this season and we noticed that even two or three millimetres are enough of a difference in the height of the bike in braking, which may depend on a few different pressure bars on the lever, to radically change the bike’s behaviour. You must always be consistent, lap after lap. You need an excellent set-up for perfect braking and if you try to brake further, it can unbalance everything. Braking has always been a strong point of my riding, so having found good sensations was important to bring down the times. I am not yet at my maximum potential, because the two guys in the Pramac team were really fast, but I still have something to try. I think I can improve the handling of the bike with a few small changes. The most important thing is to have understood that we cannot solve all the problems with electronics, which is a great sign for me. "
Can improving in braking penalize you in other areas?
"Now I feel better under braking; as I brake really hard I always need a lot of support. When I manage to stop the bike well, everything is much easier. We certainly lost something on the fast corners, but I'm happy in any case. More than happy I would say that I am positive because in FP4 we tried the tyres and with the soft tyres we were fast and consistent. In qualifying I made two small mistakes, I could have done better, but certainly this qualifying is my best this season, at least for the sensations. I am happy with the steps forward we have made".
It could have been even better without those two small mistakes…
"Yes, and it hurts me not to have done two perfect laps, maybe I would have started later. But I have regained speed and consistency and this makes me really happy. I know I can take further steps forward, but I am 50% satisfied, I have found excellent sensations, I want to be positive for tomorrow. I think this could be the chance to change the season. "
According to Jack Miller, the guys from VR46 have an advantage in Misano due to the fact that they often lap here in training. Do you think this advantage is real?
"I don't think it is because they ride a lot with road bikes. I've also ridden them a lot in the past, but I know that the feelings you get when you're on the track on production bikes are totally different. Maybe it helps a little, but really the sensations are very far from MotoGP bikes. Of course, riding here often can help but in the case of Pecco I think this year he is so strong because he made big steps forward in braking, an area in which he suffered too much last year. Now he is very strong in braking and it is an aspect on which I still have to improve too.”