Danilo Petrucci was a guest of our Live broadcast (you can see the whole interview above) to talk to us about his magnificent experience of the Dakar and about his future, which will start at Portimao with a first test on a Ducati Panigale V4 in view of his arrival in MotoAmerica. Petrux shared the satisfaction he felt in completing a Dakar that right from the very start did not seem to lend him a hand, with all the injuries and problems with the bike that slowed him down but were unable to stop him before he crowned this dream.
"The second part of the Dakar was very hard - Danilo told us - I tried my best but a couple of crashes in the end were also quite important. I did some medical checks and it seems that I dislocated my collarbone, but luckily it doesn’t have to be operated on. Nothing very serious, it's a pity that the last thing happened three kilometres from the finish line. I'm happy to have finished it and it was an experience that changed me a lot. I wasn’t used to doing this type of race, I didn’t know what to expect and I started with the toughest Rally. It was either sink or swim. "
What did this Dakar mean for you?
"The Dakar seemed to be a fall-back for me after I found nothing in MotoGP, but for me it was a turning point and I really liked this. It made me unique for what I did and it was exciting. I thought that after leaving MotoGP, nothing like this would ever happen to me anymore, instead that’s the way it went. For many years I did not enjoy what I was doing in MotoGP, because the pressure was very high. Maybe today I’m missing that pressure, because it pushes you to go even better. But this Dakar was my path to get back to enjoying myself on the bike again and it worked ".
There was also a lot of bad luck, maybe you could have achieved an even better result...
"A lot of things happened. The bike stopped three times due to electrical problems, once it wasn’t clear whether I was the one who caused the trouble while I was repairing it. Then I got dirty petrol, then there was a feed problem with the electrical system which was changed two stages from the end. The rear mono-shock also broke and that had never happened. I'm disappointed because a couple of times I also got scared. On stage 9 I was on the podium again and I was really pissed off in the evening. Let's say I didn't enjoy the finish very much because I had so many problems and I was angry."
Petrucci: "Despite some bad signs, I never thought of quitting the Dakar"
Did you ever think about quitting?
"I had several signs that this was going to be really hard, almost signs of destiny. With Covid, my injury, the problems with the bike, it was all looking bad. But now I almost miss it and I'm really happy to have lived through this experience. This year it was a bit extreme, because I had only prepared for a few days before starting. I could not train very much, also because I had a broken talus bone before the start, so it was not a perfect preparation. I would like to go back maybe with more experience and preparation, I would like to learn how to manage the roadbook better. Then it's one thing to fight for a single stage win, another to win the Dakar ".
About the Portimao test what can you tell us?
"I didn't even know when these tests would take place. For the moment I don't have any tickets in the mail, but they have spoken to me about it. I'll be there, but I don't even know what the exact days will be."
You look tired, it must have been really tough...
"Yes, I'm taking a lot of time to recover. Sleeping isn't easy, I got used to completely different times. On the one hand it was also the nice thing, because I didn't think about anything there. It was just riding, eating and sleeping. Then I had an hour where I was posting crap on Instagram to have fun and it was nice. Today I think I did ten interviews, and I had stopped MotoGP also to get away from this sort of thing!".
You said many times that MotoGP also helped you for the Dakar. Can you tell us how?
"MotoGP is the pinnacle of two-wheeled motorsport, the riders who are there today are all very strong and very prepared from all points of view. You have to work a lot, also because you can't ride a motorcycle to train on a MotoGP bike. But I must emphasize that my preparation for the Dakar was not the best, I could have done more. All the work done to stay in MotoGP over the years certainly helped me, luckily I have never had serious accidents and I have always trained a lot. This helped me without a doubt. "
A quick thought about Marquez, who is back on the bike. You think that the Portimao test has opened up the doors for him definitively for Sepang?
"In my opinion, Marquez's test at Portimao was quite significant. The effort you make during a MotoGP race, you can only replicate in the race and in no other way. Even if you do a race simulation, you don't reach that stress level. Marc's test was a prerequisite to then doing the real tests. They helped him understand many things, already riding a bike like that is indicative. He absolutely wants to go to Sepang, or at least try. For me he has recovered if they allowed him to lap on the track. I’m not missing the Sepang tests! I know they are very important, but I would have paid not to go. They are a bit like the Dakar, they are really tough ".