After winning the opening three races of the year, the former MotoGP rider had been caught and passed by reigning champion Jake Gagne.

But the Yamaha rider’s quest for a ninth victory of the season came to a dramatic end when he fell from the lead of race two at Brainerd International Raceway.

That mistake not only handed Petrucci his fourth win of the year, and first since April, but propelled the Warhorse Ducati rider back to the top of the standings by 13-points.

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“I [made] the same mistake as yesterday, hitting neutral on the penultimate corner and then Jake made a gap,” said Petrucci.

“I said, ‘I have nothing to lose. I’m behind him in the championship, behind him in this race. So, I need to try.’ [But] at the moment I said, ‘okay, he [escaped] again’. unfortunately, he crashed. I’m sorry for him. I hope he is okay. That’s racing.”

The Italian eventually won by 7.1s from Gagne’s team-mate Cameron Petersen.

“Congrats to Danilo on another win,” said Petersen. “Bummer my team-mate crashed out on that one. He obviously had the gap and kind of seemed like he had it in the bag, but that’s racing.”

Three rounds and six races now remain to decide the 2022 title.

“The championship is definitely still open. But I must be honest. Jake in this moment is a bit faster than us,” Petrucci warned.

“I have nothing to lose at this point. I never look at the points. I know Jake is faster, but I need to stay in front of him because we cannot make any calculation with him.

“He’s always first, and you need to beat him. Congrats to these guys [on the podium] and thanks to my team.”

Petrucci, who like Gagne is being linked with a possible WorldSBK wild-card appearance at the end of this season, is yet to confirm his 2023 racing plans but wants to remain with Ducati.