Petrucci's first time in World SBK ended in 8th place, which could have been 7th but Danilo was penalized by one position for a contact with Vierge at the last corner (HERE the video of the episode). Usually, the rider from Terni is a bit of a rain man, but at Phillip Island it was like taking a leap into the unknown for him.
“It was an odyssey: I'd never tried the bike in the wet, I'd never seen the tyres, not even the electronics, I did the setup at random - sighed the Barni team rider - I only knew the track, but I had never raced at Phillip Island in the rain: I started blind".
How did it go in the end?
“There was no visibility, I was always behind other riders and in some places, I couldn't see anything; I crapped my pants, as they say in Oxford (laughs). I'm happy to have reached the end because it was a really tiring race, not physically but mentally. Not knowing the tyres and electronics, I raced like a cat when it sees water. I was the best of the rookies, but I would have liked to finish further in front, but I have to be happy without having ever used the Pirellis in the wet before".
Is eighth place a bit tight for you?
“I want to enjoy this season and take what comes. As I said, today it was really tiring mentally, I tried not to make mistakes because I didn't have rear grip, I took a lot of risks going into corners. I tried tweaking the traction control and engine braking but couldn't do much. I must thank the guys in the team, after the starting lap they said to me: what about the setup? It's raining, I replied (laughs)”.
A lot of observers already saw you on the podium in the rain.
“It felt like I was back in Thailand when I rode the Suzuki MotoGP bike: it rained there too, and we were in the garage wondering what to do. I thought it would have gone much worse, with the poor visibility and not knowing how long the tyres would last, I had to keep calm. I was riding blind; I couldn't even tell my speed. I had to finish this race, I did it and so I achieved the goal".
What happened with Vierge?
“He entered at the last braking point, I tried to go across, he closed the door and we touched twice. I was aggressive and didn't give him space, but I didn't think he would come back the first time. Luckily no one crashed, I don't contest the stewards’ decision".
How would it have gone in the dry?
"We're getting there, but it’s taking a little longer than expected because I'm a 'special' rider because of my weight: I'm 30 kilos more than Bautista and 20 kilos more than Rinaldi. Their setup is not working for me, and work needs to be done. On Friday we improved my riding position a lot and, in my opinion, we are top 10 even in the dry. I was curious about today if it was sunny, because I can manage the wear on the rear tyre well. The potential of the bike and the team is high, and I want to do more, but I have to get used to a different format and a bike that we are building step by step. The level is high, it's been a long time since I've seen a rider ride like Bautista and set those lap times".
How much did you need this race?
"Obviously, I would have liked it to be dry, but at least now we have some data on the wet and we can improve even in those conditions."