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"I said I'll be like an elephant, die somewhere far away at Dakar... but maybe I'm still good at bikes"

Gold & Goose
Danilo Petrucci, Barni Spark Racing, Ducati Panigale V4 R, 2023 WorldSBK, Donington Park, portrait, podium, celebration [credit - Gold & Goose]

From MotoGP to Dakar to MotoAmerica, now Danilo Petrucci - the so-called Mr Versatile of racing - has now had the chance to taste success in the WorldSBK Championship after scrapping it out for a maiden podium finish at Donington Park.

A result that had increasingly looked to be forthcoming in recent rounds as Petrucci's rookie campaign steadily gathered momentum, his third place finish in race two was not only a popular one for the man himself, but for a jubilant Barni Spark Ducati team.

The Italian outfit has endured a disappointing spell of form since a breakthrough 2018 season yielded five podiums courtesy of Xavi Fores.


Since then, Petrucci has teased Barni with near-misses, not least in Misano when a podium finish went begging following a crash, much to the despair of a team in eager anticipation.

“We kept working,” he said. “We have kept working this weekend and for me this track was almost new but I remembered, it was so nice [Petrucci last raced at Donington Park in 2009].

"It looks really like the old tracks, like I had last year in USA. Really old style, flowing. I like a lot this kind of track. But, sincerely, I didn’t expect to be so strong, especially at the end.

"I think when I passed [Garrett] Gerloff, it was quite strange because I was really fast in some parts but in other parts where you can pass, I was also slow. So I was always up and down, but then… I think I felt the smell of the blood in front. When I saw seven laps to go, two riders in front, I said, ‘I need to try.’

>>> 2023 WorldSBK Championship Standings <<<

A two-time MotoGP race winner with Ducati, ‘Petrux’ admits he was unsure whether he'd made the right decision to abandon his 'MotoAmerica-n dream' in favour of a switch to WorldSBK, but says his podium at Donington Park and the joy it brings a team he raced with in Superstock 1000 more than a decade ago has made it worthwhile.

"I’m so happy because at the beginning of this year, also after the first two races I said, ‘I don't know if I did the good choice to come back in a world championship because it’s a new challenge.’

"You have always to learn new tyres, new tracks, new challengers. I quit racing in 2021 in MotoGP. I said, I will be like an elephant. I go dying somewhere far at the Dakar… But then I won a stage also at the Dakar.


"I said, ‘maybe I’m still good with bikes. But jokes apart, I’m so happy, especially for my team because they did a lot of struggling in the past. I remember in 2011 when I was racing with Barni, the team was really good and especially the team owner, Marco, is really passionate about bikes and he deserves the best. So this result is for all the team and for him. I’m so happy.”

It was a weekend to celebrate all round for the team, with Yari Montella also securing Barni's first-ever WorldSSP podiums too.

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