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WorldSBK Phillip Island: ‘Three races will be tough’ - Petrucci

Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci is set for a highly anticipated arrival in WorldSBK this weekend as the Barni Spark rider lines up at Phillip Island.

Petrucci is no stranger to the WorldSBK paddock following three seasons in Superstock 600 and two in Stock1000, which culminated in a vice championship before his move to MotoGP in 2012.

”I’m feeling excited and curious because it’s a new championship,” Petrucci admitted on his return to the world stage in the production class. “I always wanted to come one day racing in World Superbike. Last year when the opportunity came I say ‘Okay, maybe it’s time to go back to a world championship’. I think World Superbike now is growing up, the fight for the title last year was huge and so I say to myself, ‘Why I can’t see the races closer’. So I decide to join this championship and I’m really happy.


“I left this paddock in 2011 and I was racing with Barni in Superstock, and I rejoined this paddock with the same team,” he continued on his journey home. “Was really nice because I remember so well that 2011 season in Superstock. We fought till the end for the championship, and we won the Italian championship in Superstock, so I have big trust in this team and at the moment, everything is working.”

A non-stop transition from MotoGP to MotoAmerica via the Dakar Rally last winter gave way to a longer than ideal off season this time around, with the Italian joining January’s preseason tests having not competed since his Suzuki wildcard at the Thai Grand Prix the previous September.

Despite that, Jerez proved favourable, at least initially before he swapped to the 2023-spec Panigale V4R for Portimao and Phillip Island. Completing the final day of testing in Australia eleventh in the overall times, he sat a second off his Bologna teammate, Alvaro Bautista.

“It was quite crazy,” the 32-year-old Italian confirmed of his preparation so far. “Because in Jerez, especially the first day, was like I had always ridden this bike with this tyre, was like going in my own place. But since the second day, we face some difficulties, especially with new tyre, and then in Portimao it was exactly the same because it was like I have never ridden one bike in my life.

“I was constantly slow and the craziest thing that was nothing really works - not really worse, not really better.

“So we sat back in Phillip Island and I say ‘Okay, I just have to ride the bike and understand why we are facing this difficulties’. We understood that the riding position is still not good. I always feel uncomfortable, especially on braking and I was telling my crew chief not really exactly what’s going on the bike. So my information were not sure and I was in trouble because in some corner I was fast, in some other corner really, really slow.

“In the last day, we had a good race simulation and I was happy about the pace. I’m still worried about the single lap time with the new tyre - I can’t be fast at the moment - but the race simulation was okay. I’m managing the tyre. Was quite a big challenge but I was feeling good. Unfortunately, I crashed with another rider and I’m feeling a little bit painful around the body but I think I will be okay for the weekend.”

While Petrucci is currently getting to grips with his new championship, new tyres, the upgraded Panigale and a return to a team he’s not competed with for 12 years, WorldSBK has another added element for the racing stalwart, a three-race weekend. 

“In one year I was used to, let’s say, give all I had in one race and then say, ‘Okay, this night I just enjoy my team, my friends and we can have two or three beers,’” he reflected with a smile. “But last year in MotoAmerica, I say ‘oh no, I have another race tomorrow, so I need to stay focused for tomorrow’. And now in Superbike we have three!

“Even on the physical side I think will be tough. I’m quite scared about next week in Indonesia but also here will be tough with this heat.

“Sincerely I am not expecting too much from me from these two races, even because there is still a lot of pressure that I put on myself so I need to stay calm and try to enjoy.”

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