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MotoGP Valencia: Petrucci ‘proud to fight with best in the world’

A second Italian takes his final bow on Sunday as Tech3 KTM’s Danilo Petrucci gets set to swap MotoGP for the Dakar Rally.

While the Valencia paddock was awash with praise for Valentino Rossi, there was equal respect paid to the charismatic and likeable 31-year-old. With a career spanning both production and prototype championships, and with the Italian Superbike title to his name before joining MotoGP, Petrucci secured 10 podiums, including his well celebrated Mugello and Le Mans victories as part of the Ducati factory line up before joining the satellite KTM squad for his final season.

“The last few races, unfortunately, have been really, really unlucky but I come here and just want to enjoy my last kilometres on a MotoGP bike," petrucci admitted on Thursday ahead of his final round. "It's been a really, really good trip coming here because 10 years ago, no one knows me but especially I didn't know any Grand Prix circuit, Grand Prix bikes, Grand Prix tyres, nothing. So a long way to go and I really had a lot of fun.


“Since last year, sincerely I started to struggle a bit and I start to think to other ways to enjoy riding the bike and fortunately this opportunity came thanks to KTM,” he continued, explaining his future plans to compete in the 2022 Dakar rally with his current employers.

“For sure, I need to start again another 10 season career, but here I found some difficulties since last year because of my weight and my size that I didn't have before and this year I was struggling too much to keep the level. Switching to rally, there I'm one of the youngest and one of the lightest for sure and maybe I can be competitive in some years because absolutely not now.

"Was really a pride to share the track with some unique talents and see also the guys here, I saw them growing up from Moto3 and I was always a big fan of all the riders I met for the first time and all the ones coming through MotoGP. Was really, really nice to fight with the best guys in the world.

“Winning a race is something incredible. My childhood dream was to win the World Championship. Unfortunately, I found a lot of bigger talent here on my way but then in 2019 I was fighting really all the races for the victory or for the podium. Yeah, maybe the best feeling was winning in Mugello but the thing was that I don't remember really that feeling, because was too big. Last year in Le Mans I enjoy much more. After the race win, there is always a lot of expectation for this race in Italy, for Ducati, for everyone, and sincerely I have really few memories after the finish line. Winning again last year in Le Mans has been much better because I really enjoy what I did, on the sports side.”

Petrucci’s two victories were celebrated by both fans and the entire paddock alike - a testament to the popular Italian’s amiable character.

“I always try to joke on myself and always I try to tell the truth,” he said. "Maybe this was another problem, that sometimes you cannot say the truth in this world and this makes me a lot of penalties to have spoke too much.

“I could achieve, maybe looking back,  something more, I could win earlier but then leaving the moment I really did the best. I always try to bring some funny moments and try to not say always the same thing - 'I will try to make a good race’, 'I will try to make good qualifying’. I never act and always try to be myself and it's been really, really nice.

“The biggest thing to learn in Dakar is everything, because it's completely another world,” he continued, looking ahead. "I think already now, one week of training I did more than the distance that I did all this year with a MotoGP bike. I'm completely new and fortunately I have quite some good skills for riding but then the navigation is really something that you need to understand. Here we talk about metres and millimetres on the bike, there you talk about kilometres and you never know what's going on. For this reason, I will do this Dakar, and then we will sit down a bit with KTM and decide what's the plan for the year after, if I like, if I enjoy to do these kinds of races or maybe trying something different.

“I don't know what's going on in the future but in this moment, I'm really happy that I achieve one of my dreams, to race the Dakar. I don't know for how many years I will do that or maybe trying something different in the future.”

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