Danilo Petrucci starts his fourth season as a Pramac rider in confident mood claiming the Ducati Desmosedici GP18 is the ‘best bike’ he has ever ridden but the Italian is also acutely the aware the pressure to peform and secure a factory ride for the next two seasons is huge.
Petrucci believes that having great machinery underneath him will play a part in finding success in a season he is predicting to be the closest so far following on from a tight test at the Losail track.
“I think we are 10 riders that can fight for the podium for half the race, and maybe for all the race. This will be more difficult every year, this year I don’t know why - maybe rider levels have become higher and higher,” he said, speaking in Qatar.
“I remember, for example, in Thailand on the second day we were 20 riders in one second, here 12 riders in a second on a two minute track so it’s difficult to make the difference with these riders especially because in the top ten. I think I am the only to have never won a race in this championship, never fight for the title, so for me all the names are quite heavy around me.”
Petrucci also think the highly-competitive grid coupled with the anxiety of contract talks starting earlier and earlier is putting extra pressure on riders, with the lack of time off a concern for the Ducati satellite rider.
“You know MotoGP, some riders signed the contracts already before the championship starts, so this puts us under a lot of pressure, we have a short time in our life, our career, this year is more heavy - everyone is without a contract.
“I think for everyone there is more pressure, we are twenty riders in the world doing this job and you have to be always at 100 percent, this time the winter was very, very short I came back home in December and left on January 8 so there is no rest, no off-season any more.
“This year we don’t have a proper summer break, the Ducati riders have the Ducati festival the week after Sachsenring, so I thought to go on holiday, but it was not possible - I have to earn it at the end of the season.”
The charismatic rider ended on a positive note ahead of the first practice session of 2018: “If I don’t find I’m happy here I can go away - no-one put a gun to me and said you have to have MotoGP. The positive is we go on the bike, forget everything for 45 minutes and it’s the best feeling in the world for me.”