On his third time out on the Barni Racing Ducati Panigale V4R, Danilo Petrucci still hasn't found a solution. Things are looking up for Petrux, who ended the first day of testing today in 12th position, 1.3 seconds behind Toprak Razgatlioglu's benchmark. It's not something to be enthusiastic about, but Danilo found some positives in the day and above all he's sure he still has a lot of room for improvement, given that in some sections of the track he's as fast as the best on the track and then loses everything in other areas, where he is still not able to get the most out of a bike and tyres that are very different from those used in 2022 in MotoAmerica.
"In Portimao I simply didn't quite understand how to use the bike, both the new and the old, which in any case are very similar. There we struggled a lot, despite several attempts to change the set-up, things didn't change for better or worse. Today we continued familiarization work, trying to change as few things as possible, I only worked on the 2023 Panigale".
What did you focus on?
"We did some tests, I still have to figure out how to take advantage of these tyres, because in many parts of the track if I want to ride naturally, I lose it, especially with the gas. I must admit that we have made some steps forward in terms of race pace, but the problem of the new tyre still remains, I still can't take advantage of it. It gives me too much grip and I go wide, with the bike getting very nervous. I already suffer from instability on the bike, I even lost the winglets! I went so strong that they both came off".
Other riders define the 2023 Panigale as easier, isn't it the same for you?
"The 2023 is more usable in terms of power delivery, but my problem is precisely in the acceleration phase, because there's a lot of load on the rear and this causes the front to lose too much directionality. We worked to try and get me to gain confidence. Out of thirteen curves, ten of us go the same while in three curves I lose a second. So these are the things that make me surprised, I'm probably exaggerating in some points, where I think I have to go fast, while I'm going slowly in others, where I think I go well. I can see it from the telemetry. But there are things that, for example, I can't do in fast corners, due to the way my bike is now".
In general, are you improving your confidence with the bike?
"I'm satisfied with the feeling with the bike. Today I did my time on the tenth lap with a used tyre, at the end of a run. Then with the softer one I improved by two tenths and I was behind Toprak, so it's not really the way to go. This can create problems for me for qualifying, I also struggle to overtake for what I've seen. In my opinion we are shooting off target, but we don't understand whether by a centimetre or a metre. So we need to sort ourselves out for a moment, but in my opinion the potential is high because otherwise I wouldn't be able to do some corners faster than the other Ducatis, and then others much slower".
How is it going with the Pirellis instead?
"Probably I still have to adapt well to the Pirellis, which are very performing tyres but they have to be understood. Now I have problems with my shoulder when I'm leaning over very much, as if it doesn't keep me on the edge. When I try to go faster, it slides. So I have to sort it out in other areas such as corner entry and braking, clearly I would like to do more, I'm not happy with my time. I would like to be more consistent, gain speed with the new tyre to understand what is needed".
With the soft new tyre it didn't go well.
"To do a lap two tenths better with the new tyre I risked my life like in the Dakar, throughout the Dakar. While when I ride on my own, with used tyres, it goes better. Surely the leaders are going very fast, from 5th or 6th we are all close. The potential of the bike is very high, but we need to understand how to adjust the geometry to put it in a position where I feel comfortable. Compared to the bike I had in America, the ergonomics are also very different. This bike has a very different position, but until Assen we don't have real new solutions for this".