The Long Goodbye. This is how Danilo Petrucci's 2020 can only be defined, a season lived entirely as separated at home with Ducati after six seasons of coexistence, four of which under the Pramac Team colours and the last two in the role of official rider, with the victories of Mugello and Le Mans to embellish this story which has now come to an end.
But even the longest of goodbyes comes to a point where the end is getting closer and closer and this triple-header of races represents exactly that for Danilo Petrucci, an opportunity to say goodbye to the people with whom he has tackled the MotoGP roller-coaster, experiencing triumphs and disappointments and in any case creating a bond that goes beyond the track and the pits. Danilo knows this and is visibly moved when, during the meeting with the journalists, he talks about this moment and all that it means.
"I have thought about it a lot in these days - confirmed Petrucci - especially while I was preparing my things, my suitcase with all the Ducati stuff, clothing. It was awful, melancholic. But the important thing this season for me - the victory of Le Mans - remains, it was a relief. It was also a very intimate, personal thing, which gave me my confidence back. I think that in these three races I can assert myself, and here it is also raining. I’m not only putting my trust in the weather, but I have excellent sensations with the bike and I would like to do at least one of these three races at the top. Of course I aim to do all three at the top, I want to end my story with Ducati with a smile. The atmosphere in the pits is relaxed, this has helped us to take a step forward. At the last race in Portimao I will be all emotional when I say goodbye to the mechanics on the grid for the last time. But I am satisfied with what I have done even though I would like to make these last three races sweeter than usual ".
Will none of 'your' men follow you to Tech3 in 2021?
"None of the Ducati technicians will be with me. In fact I had even talked about it with someone, but I also wanted to respect the decision of Hervé Poncharal, who did not want to break up his current team. From this point of view I have deep respect for the environment that there is in that team. It'll all be new to me. "
It will be even more difficult for you because there will be no tests at Jerez at the end of the year. It will really all be new in 2021.
"We will not do the Jerez tests and all the riders agreed that there wasn’t so much need to do them, also due to the low temperatures in November. This year I would have liked to have gone there! I will have to do a lot of laps in Sepang, where we will probably do two tests. I'm disappointed because I was very curious, but I will arrive more prepared and focused in 2021. Above all, I will do a lot of laps in Sepang in the strong heat, just the situation I prefer! (he laughs, Ed.)".
One of the strangest seasons in MotoGP history is also coming to an end...
"It has been a tough season, doing three races in a row often and then stopping for just one week is not the best. The situation around the world is certainly not the best either, but for me this calendar has been stressful. We have done almost all the races in four months, it was very difficult for everyone, from the riders to the technicians. I'm happy to be here in Valencia and I will gladly stay here for the races, but in my opinion it's not an optimal solution to have so many races in a row".
There was not even any cheering from fans on the track. Did you miss this a lot?
"When you ride the bike during practice, the race, you don't feel the presence of the fans that much. You miss them at the end of each session and at the end of each race and that has been missing a lot. Fortunately you don’t feel this lack while you are racing. It is sad, however, when you see the empty stands, even thinking about the spectacle the fans could have seen. For me, seeing the MotoGP bikes on the track is always a spectacle, when there are tests I always try to be there because I like to see them along the track ".
Did you take advantage of this short break to recharge before the last triple-header?
"The break was quite short and at home the situation is certainly not the best for the pandemic. At least I trained, I did it well. Here I think we can have a good race, last year the situation was not bad at all. Unfortunately I had a problem with my left shoulder, but the Ducati got on the podium, so I think the situation could be better than Aragon. The biggest problem there was the lack of traction, here it is a new asphalt, so I'm pretty positive. At Aragon 2 I found a good feeling on the bike again and that was the key to being faster. This makes me feel positive about this final part of the season".
Do you think the strong wind was decisive for your performance at Aragon, penalizing you more than others?
"For me the wind was not a big problem in Aragon. It was only a little bit on Friday in the first race in Aragon. I think the second race didn't go very well because the others found a way to get the best out of the tyres, while we remained at our level. We knew it would be difficult to solve our problems and in the end we did not succeed. It seemed as if we were at Brno, where the asphalt is very worn out and has little grip. When things are like this , we know we don't have many solutions. Only Zarco can make the Ducati go fast in those circumstances, he makes movements that I would define almost strange in the saddle and finds a lot of grip thanks to these movements. In any case I don't want to think about Aragon, I want to concentrate on Valencia and at the moment the weather is bad, even if we don't have to hope for the weather, but only to adapt well to the situations we will find there".