Danilo Petrucci has acknowledged that the first and second free practice sessions at Le Mans will mainly “be a fight with myself” as he plans to make a full return from the injury that has prevented him racing in the MotoGP class in 2016.
The Italian was in pragmatic form when speaking on Thursday, and openly admitted that, although physically fitter than ever, he is unsure just how his recovering hand will react under the heavy strain posed by forces when braking and accelerating a MotoGP machine.
Having missed the first four races of the campaign, Petrucci frankly stated that he would pull out of the French Grand Prix if he felt a weekend's worth of riding would have a detrimental effect on his hand's recovery. The next race at Mugello and continuity from there takes precedence.
“I'm happy to be here again even if I'm not so good,” said an upbeat Petrucci in Pramac Ducati hospitality. “I learnt from Qatar that I have to stay very fit to ride a MotoGP. Now the situation is better compared to Qatar but I don't have a perfect hand. I will check tomorrow. I'm happy to be with my team and bike again. My team stayed really close to me in this period, which was one of the hardest of my career. I have the calm and have understood that without one hand you can't ride.
“Tomorrow morning I will check and if I have to stop for some reason I will stop and not continue the weekend, even if I truly want to race. I haven't been on the grid this year. In fact I haven't ridden a bike since Phillip Island in February so it's more than two months. I rode the bike in Qatar but only for the first session and the second practice when I broke my hand again. It was a little bit a trauma that session because riding a bike with one hand was very difficult.”
Petrucci broke the hand while testing in Phillip Island in February and then attempted a gutsy comeback at the first round in Qatar, just three weeks later. That decision proved critical however, as the 25-year old broke the same hand again aboard the bike during practice.
Reflecting upon the decision, the Italian that hails from Terni, acknowledged that his focus is on ensuring he returns when his body feels completely ready.
“In Qatar my objective was to convince the others to convince myself that I was OK. But it was like my body knew that something was not good. At the end it was not so bad in Qatar because I finish ninth or tenth in FP2. It was so good and for this reason I want to come back. My team give me the chance to ride here. I want to finish the weekend but I don't want to compromise the other races, like Mugello, and [to] not finish the championship because I already miss four races and I don't want to miss another one.
“I have to keep calm and ride the bike tomorrow relaxed. The problem for me is that tomorrow I won't enjoy staying so much on the back of the grid. Tomorrow will be a fight with myself and I will choose to stay safe for the next races.”