2 July 2015
MotoGP Assen: Petrucci: The best race this year
Danilo Petrucci felt his showing at Assen ranks as his best performance of 2015 as he finished just fifteen seconds back of third place
Danilo Petrucci was delighted with his weekend at Assen as he finished the MotoGP race a creditable eleventh, a place ahead of 'Factory' mounted Andrea Dovizioso.
Fast throughout the weekend, Petrucci manhandled the GP14 through the demanding circuit's fast changes of direction to end the race 29.038 seconds from the race winner – the closest in daytime conditions in 2015.
The 24-year old from Terni latched on to the back of the frantic eight-rider dice for fifth place and his proximity to Pol Espargaro, who headed that battle, gave him great satisfaction.
“[It was] Maybe the best race so far this year,” said Petrucci, now eleventh in the championship. “Fifteen seconds to the podium is a great result and five seconds to fifth place. I'm very happy. I push really hard all the race. The bike went so good from Thursday morning and all the weekend we were fast and always in the top ten.
“Eleventh position is not so good but I'm really happy to stay in the second part of the group. I was behind the group of [Cal] Crutchlow, the two Espargaros. In the end I can't stay in front of [Maverick] Viñales. He overtook me and in the last two laps I saw Dovizioso maybe had some problems.”
As Dovizioso started to slow around midrace because of a broken component in his seat unit, Petrucci admitted he was unsure whether to move past one of his 'superiors.' In the end, the possibility of a claiming a big-name scalp was too much to resist.
“I push really hard and in the last lap I overtake him at the last long left corner before the chicane,” he continued. “I gained another point. I'm sorry for him but this is racing. He is like my superior. I had one or two moments that I think, 'Do I go past, do I not go past?' I try. In the last left I overtake him and it was so good.
“All the team deserve this result and I hope this can be good for some evolution on the bike. In Sachsenring we expect another good race, especially because with the cold temperature we don't have a big drop with the rear tyre. We suffer a little less with tyre life. i'm still quite close to the top ten in the ranking so we are in the pack. I would like to say thanks to all my team.”
The 2.8-mile Dutch track already held special memories for Petrucci after he made a point-scoring return from a serious wrist injury here in 2014.
Considering the problems Ducati's 'Factory' riders encountered with the GP14 at Assen in the dry the year before, Petrucci felt his proximity to pole position on Friday – 0.499s – underlines the progress being made in the Pramac Racing garage.
“Assen is like Phillip Island and Mugello – one of my favourite tracks. Most of all because it has long and very fast corners. This bike doesn't like to turn so much. Also this bike likes the track. Last year the two factory riders suffered a lot but Dovizioso reached the podium in a very strange race. In the dry no one was competitive like me this year. Yesterday we were less than half a second from the pole. I was one-tenth from the second row. It was so good. I hope that someone sees that result.”
Assen's succession of fast fifth and sixth gear curves required serious bravery throughout the weekend as the GP14's notorious turning troubles forced Petrucci into modifying his riding style.
“To go fast with the bike you don't have to follow your instinct like school. You have to think. It's really fast in some points that are not so useful. Like going into the corners very fast but then it doesn't turn. You have to wait, turn the bike and then you can push. It's like stop and go riding.
“Especially this year in MotoGP, you have to brake hard, turn fast and open [the throttle] so early. We are very competitive in the braking area so we can enjoy this, then stop the bike and open. It's not so easy. When you have to go fast you say, 'wait, wait, wait…now open!' When you are following someone it's difficult to go slow in a race. But I feel race by race we can follow the second group of the championship.”
Asked whether he feels such rides could bring machine imminent upgrades, Petrucci acknowledged that his debut year with the factory is like 'the first year of school'. Although hopeful, new parts may not be forthcoming until the autumn of the season.
“I don't ask for anything. Maybe I have to wait for some other races like this. Maybe at the end of the championship. Ducati is a like a big family and I think something will arrive. If nothing arrives I'm happy because for the next year we can have a very competitive bike. This year is like the first year of school. I have to learn everything with a good bike. I think it can happen difficult races like Barcelona again but these results are very good for us.”
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