From the red of Borgo Panigale to the orange of Mattighofen. For Danilo Petrucci 2021 is the year of great change, with the KTM challenge that awaits him after the end of his long adventure with Ducati. Today Danilo unveiled his beautiful RC16 which this season will be characterized by a total orange livery. After the usual introductions, Petrucci presented himself for an interview in which he talked a lot about this new beginning, his expectations and the way in which the KTM men, primarily Pit Beirer and Mike Leitner, have welcomed him.
"I really like orange! Now I can say that the KTMs are the only bikes I have bought in recent years - confessed Danilo - I have a great passion for off-roading and I have always loved KTMs. I have tried all the KTM bikes, I was just missing the MotoGP one, so I really had to get here! I’ve trained hard, I went to the Red Bull Performance Centre and it was really good, I did a lot of physical and mental checks. I had fun, we did so many different tests. which allowed me to understand where I need to improve. I have been followed by very competent people and I already feel much better. I enjoyed the feeling of being followed in this way and seeing my improvements, it means a lot to me. I just miss getting back on a MotoGP bike now ".
A new beginning for you, a challenge to be discovered…
"I feel like I've gone back to the approach I had at the beginning of my career in MotoGP. I'm rediscovering myself, I feel like when I arrived in MotoGP ten years ago. With a great desire to improve and work. Of course I was much younger at that time, but this makes me feel younger today than in the recent past. "
Petrucci: "Mike asked me how I see the KTM compared to the Ducati. Seeing them attentive to my words was nice"
You have been a Ducati rider for a long time, you know the Desmosedici very well. What did Mike Leitner ask you about your old bike?
"I'm the most experienced and I've ridden other MotoGP bikes as well. So yes ... let's say our technical meeting lasted longer than expected. The fact is that I'm a rider and I don't know exactly everything there is about a bike, I can only tell my feelings and ideas. Mike immediately asked me how I saw their bike on the track compared to the Ducati, but seeing it from the outside is different than being on it. In any case, they have Dani Pedrosa who has a lot of experience and he is a hyper-technician. They have grown a lot together, it is clear that I was pleased to see that everything I said to them they wrote down with a lot of notes. This made me really happy, it made me feel very important in this phase. Unfortunately we have only had technical meetings, I have been in the wind tunnel, but I have not yet been on the running bike! ".
Will it be a problem to race with Tech3 instead of the Factory team?
"When I signed with KTM and they told me I would race with Tech3 they guaranteed me that the level of the bikes would be the same for all four riders, so that's okay with me. I'm the most experienced of the four riders. and I don't see any difference today between being in the Factory team and in Tech3. This team won twice last year, I have always had a good relationship with Hervé and I always thought that I would like to race with them. In Pramac I proved that you can easily fight at the top if you have a factory bike even if you are not in the factory team. I’m not worried too much, I just know that I have to stay ahead of everyone. "
Petrucci: "The RC16 is now a bike that adapts to all styles. Binder arrived and immediately went very fast"
What idea did you have about the RC16, do you think it will suit your style well?
"I followed the KTMs a lot on the track in 2020 and when we signed the contract, Mike Leitner told me that this bike is now perfectly adaptable to all styles. Pol Espargarò, who at the time was the best rider with the bike, brakes as hard as me. But Dani Pedrosa has also started to go very fast and he has a completely different style. This is reassuring, because it means that different riders can go fast with the RC16. When in 2020 I followed the KTM riders on the track, I saw that everyone had a different style and yet they were all very strong. I was very surprised by Binder because he was immediately very fast with the KTM, while riding very differently from everyone else. The bike suits everyone well, but I know that until I get on it, I will never know the truth. I'm curious, now I have this contract signed since June 2020. I was supposed to try it at the end of the year and I didn't, then they cancelled the tests in February and now I know that we will have to wait until March. I'm curious!".
Is it possible to win?
"For sure in the last two years I have won, even if only one race per season, but I think I was one of the first to believe in KTM, already in 2019. After six years in Ducati it was time to change, especially because I had seen their improvements at the end of 2019. They won three times in 2020, it's a great opportunity for me. It will be an important season, they all are when you are in MotoGP. My goal is to win with KTM too, because winning with two different manufacturers is something that few riders have done and I would like to do it. I think I can do it ".
Missing the tests at Valencia and then at Sepang will be a big limitation for you as you have changed teams?
"Missing the Sepang tests will not be a trivial matter. In those tests you experience the most difficult conditions you can find on the bike. In Qatar we will have five days of testing on the same track and that’s quite a lot, because then we will also do the first two races there. Losail is perhaps not the best track to experience all the scenarios that can be found during the championship. But we have to adapt and I think it will still be interesting to try the RC16 for five consecutive days on the same track, I will be able to get to know it thoroughly. "
Petrucci: "At the end of 2020 I was physically in pieces. Now I feel younger than ever"
Physically how do you feel? At the end of 2020 you said you had arrived at the end of the season not in top form...
"At the end of 2020 I arrived in pieces, I had a physical problem caused by the crash at the beginning of the season in Jerez. I had to stop to recover, but it was necessary. I restarted in January with training and I felt young again, I am one of the more experienced riders in MotoGP. But now I really spend 90% of my day in training, physiotherapy. I'm getting passionate about all this again and both Mike and Pit have told me to go back to my origins. We are all passionate about motorcycles and we have to find that pleasure in doing what we like and I am succeeding. It is a key year, but for me from 2015 to today they have all been. It is only a year in which I want to do what I like and doing it with KTM is a great achievement ".
Petrucci: "Riding with Cairoli just means being on the same track, after two corners he leaves you behind"
You are now a KTM rider like Cairoli. Will you train with him in motocross sometimes?
"I am very good friends with Cairoli, we already rode together a lot of times last year. Among other things, the day I had my first contact with KTM I was with Tony riding on a motocross bike. So it was a nice coincidence, pretty nice. We have ridden together several times, it's a pity that actually riding with Cairoli just means being on the same track, because in the end you manage to do two corners with him… KTM lost a great customer with me, I don't know how many I bought for myself in the past! I will try to make amends in some way ".
So far what is the aspect that has impressed you the most about KTM in their approach?
"In KTM, everything is done at 100%. They take care of every single detail, even those of the human side and they want me to feel good and have fun doing what I do. This is an aspect I’m working on and I'm really happy with this. I feel that I’m in the best possible condition ".