“I got the call before the race on Sunday in Alabama, when I was still fighting for the [MotoAmerica] title!” explained Petrucci, after arriving in the Buriram paddock on Thursday. “So I said: ‘Let me think about it!’”

But he couldn’t think about it for long.

Shortly after finishing second in the Superbike standings to Jake Gagne, Petrucci had to decide if he would jump on the GSX-RR in place of the injured Joan Mir this weekend.

“After the race, I went back to the tent at 6pm and my manager said: ‘We have to decide now because there is no time go to Thailand from the USA’.

“I said: ‘OK, we will go’.

“From this moment on it was like putting myself into a washing machine!

Marc Marquez can win a race THIS SEASON! | Thai MotoGP 2022 Crash.net

“I was with my brother in the USA and he was supposed to go on holiday to New York. So I said: ‘No, you go back to Italy because you have to wait for Suzuki [leathers]!’ He is coming to Thailand now, so I owe a holiday to my brother and his girlfriend!

“I left the hotel at 6am in Alabama on Monday and I just arrived here. I flew across the pacific, so I did a complete lap of the world, starting from Italy!

“I simply can’t explain how emotional I am. Not even an Alfred Hitchcock story could see me race in the Dakar with KTM, then go to the USA with Ducati, and now here [in MotoGP] with Suzuki. Nobody has ever done this! I’m so happy.

“This is one of the biggest gifts I have ever received in my life. All these manufacturers, from KTM, to Ducati, to Suzuki have been so kind with me. I’m so happy that I have a good relationship with all these people in the paddock. Apart from the sporting achievements, it’s the best thing I ever achieved.

“really happy to shake hands with everyone as I was crossing the paddock today. It's something that makes me proud.

“I couldn’t say no to this offer. I mean, I would have swum the Pacific to ride this bike!”

Petrucci: I hope it will rain forever!

Buriram has been drenched for several days by the tropical storm Noru and current forecasts predict more rain over each day of the race weekend.

“I hope it will rain forever – or at least until Sunday at 4pm!” smiled Petrucci, who took the second of his MotoGP race wins for Ducati in the wet at Le Mans 2020.

“I’m retired now and the race in Thailand was tough [with the heat] when I was fully fit. Now I’m an old man it will be even tougher! So I sincerely hope the [wet] weather will help me a bit.

“At least it will make the race less physical and also because [in the rain] everything [on the bike] is more soft, more easy.

“I just want to enjoy and finish the race. I think it’s so difficult to finish in a position that is not last place, but we’ll see.

“Maybe the bike is so, so good that I will immediately find the way [to ride it] and can stay at least closer to the other guys.

“I just want to push at my best. I don’t care about the results - even if I want to go fast as always.

“I said the same when I went to the Dakar and was not expecting to win a stage. So my plan was just to enjoy and his week the target is the same.

“For sure it will be tough, also because the guys are at the end of the championship and are so [used] to their bikes.”

Petrucci: Thumb brake position is a ride-height device

Having not ridden a MotoGP bike since last November’s Valencia finale for Tech3 KTM, and yet to even sit on a GSX-RR, Petrucci has plenty to learn.

“I haven’t had a chance to sit on the bike yet, but they showed me the [controls] and all the devices are in different positions [to my previous bikes] and we cannot make modifications,” Petrucci said.

“I have a thumb brake usually and here the thumb brake is to activate the ride-height device, so it’s quite dangerous if I push that button inside the corner like I would with the thumb brake!

“So I’ll have to fix my thumb [out of the way of the ride-height device switch] and not touch it!”

The 31-year-old added: “I think [I’ll need to adapt my riding style] because I’ve always ridden with V4 engines [in MotoGP] and this is in Inline 4, I only rode an Inline 4 in 2013 with Ioda and the Suter BMW. But it was another era.

“The bike, everything, the position, is so different. We just had a look on some data but everything is so different at the moment. I need first to try the bike and understand, also because usually with my size I always need something different in the set-up and so on.

“So we first have to ride the bike and understand everything.

“But I’m just happy to be here and tomorrow we will try to understand how hard it will be.”

Rins welcomes fifth team-mate of the year!

Suzuki regular Alex Rins said he is looking forward to hearing Petrucci's comments on the GSX-RR, given his past experience on the Ducati and KTM.

"We have a new team-mate, the fifth this year," smiled Rins. "I'm happy Petrux is back, he's a good guy, the relationship with him is so nice, so let's see if I can learn something from him, because for sure he's a very good rider, and he has a lot of experience in the championship. So let's see if I can learn something.

"We haven't talked about the bike too much, but I'm happy that another rider is trying the bike, to see where is the limit of the bike, what he thinks about the bike. It will be nice.

"It would be better in dry conditions to feel the bike more. He can push more and find the limit more in dry conditions. But OK, it's wet."

Crutchlow: Danilo will be fine

Like Petrucci, Cal Crutchlow has made a late entry into the 2022 MotoGP season - in place of Andrea Dovizioso at RNF - albeit on a bike he had been testing.

"He’ll be fine. Danilo is experienced. He has won two grands prix and has probably ridden the most out of everybody in the paddock!" Crutchlow said.

"If it’s a wet weekend it may be easier for him to come in and take his time. Because in the dry, honestly - the speed they are going! In Aragon and also Motegi, they [were gaining] two seconds in a [dry] time attack. It’s those balls-out laps that are difficult.

"But if Danilo gets into a rhythm, I’m sure his pace will be fine. And if it’s wet he may be able to take advantage."