Petrucci is stepping back into MotoGP, for the second time since his final full season in 2021, in place of the injured Enea Bastianini.

But it will be the 32-year-old Italian’s first ride on a Desmosedici since the 2020 season, when he swept to a wet victory at the same Le Mans circuit.

“They asked me on Friday during the [Catalunya WorldSBK] race weekend,” confirmed Petrucci, who is racing for Barni Ducati in his debut SBK campaign.

“The Superbike riders are testing in Misano now, but when they ask you to ride a bike that has won the World championship last year, you can’t say no! So here I am.

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“It's another thing that I was not really expecting in my life, but in the last year, I did a lot of things! I'm really happy and proud to be here again. The last time I was here with Ducati I won the race. So really good memories.

“It's quite a ‘Mission Impossible’ to jump into a race weekend with no testing, nothing. But it's a little bit easier compared to last October in Thailand [with Suzuki] because that time everything was really new except for the track.

“At least this time we already had one briefing. We have a set-up. I know all the team. I know the bike, which is improved from three years ago.”

Petrucci’s return follows hot on the heels of a stunning one-off ride by KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa at Jerez.

“No, I wish!” he said of repeating Pedrosa’s top six form in the dry. “But first of all, Dani is Dani! Then I think he did a lot of kilometres on his bike in Jerez and I think no one can [teach] something to Dani in Jerez. He was like in his backyard.”

Nonetheless, “I’ve been on the podium three times in a row at Le Mans. But these guys in MotoGP are really fast and I’m arriving without any tests…

“But from what I understood, we can use the setup I had here three years ago.

“Fortunately, they still have all the data from 2020, and also my riding position, so at the end it's really like I had my bike. They don't tell me where the bike has changed [since then], but I think the bike has improved a lot.

“I want to try the bike on the dry first, to understand how the bike has changed and everything and then, maybe also for the physical condition, I hope it will rain because for sure I'm better in the rain.

“But I was really, really happy that in Thailand last year I did not finish last and I think that could be a target also for this weekend.

“On Sunday afternoon I will be happy anyway. Every time I come back in this paddock - in Austin last year when I was racing in MotoAmerica, then in Thailand, then here - everyone is so nice to me.

“I think this is the biggest victory. It's really difficult to cross the paddock for me, I don't know how many hands I shake! This is my biggest achievement, people being so nice to me.”

Petrucci will be riding alongside reigning world champion and 2023 title leader Francesco Bagnaia.