On Saturday at the German MotoGP, Danilo Petrucci was announced as remaining at the Pramac Ducati team for 2018.

The Italian, who beat team-mate Scott Redding to a prized GP17 by outscoring the Englishman in the second half of last season, is enjoying his best MotoGP season with two podiums and three front-row starts in the last four rounds.

That form looked far for guaranteed during winter testing and the early races, when Petrucci was dogged by technical problems and left looking enviously at the proven GP16 package in the hands of Alvaro Bautista and Redding.

But the Italian's luck finally changed with a sterling ninth-to-third charge in front of his home fans at Mugello and he came within 0.063s of beating Valentino Rossi for victory at Assen.

Such performances attracted the attention of other teams, notably Aprilia, and Petrucci previously stated he would decide his future during the summer break... "then both Ducati and Aprilia want to go on holiday after this race, so they say; 'you have to decide. We have to have a clear idea of the future'.

"Sincerely, the most important thing was that to change teams at this moment was not so good. Because I really love this team, I really love Ducati. And imagine today to say to Pramac, 'OK, I go to Aprilia?' The second part of the season could be very difficult, especially for the mental feeling.

"Pramac gave me the biggest step in my career, the biggest help, so I really wanted to stay with them again. Aprilia made me a very good offer, I would like to thank them, but I prefer now to have a very competitive bike and a competitive team."

Although it has not been officially announced, the 26-year-old is again set to receive the latest Ducati machinery in 2018, alongside official riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.

"I will be riding a factory bike, like this year," Petrucci confirmed.

By signing only a one-year deal (directly with Ducati) Petrucci will be free to contest for a factory team seat in 2019, when almost all existing contracts expire.

The Italian was speaking after Sunday's race, where he was locked in an early battle for fourth before fading to twelfth with rear grip problems.

"After six or seven laps it became very difficult to open the throttle, everybody passed me on the straight, and it's quite strange to pass a Ducati on the straight. Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM also. Pol passed me when I was in fourth gear.

"I was on the medium tyre. It was strange, because Lorenzo and Dovizioso used the soft... Maybe Michelin have to check the data. We already checked it and saw spinning and sliding incredibly wrong, and it was difficult to manage.

"I felt very sorry for my team and for myself. We have to forget this race as soon as possible. "

Although MotoGP is now on its summer break, Petrucci will be doing some private testing for Ducati at Misano on July 19 and 20: "It's a set-up test for the race, but we also have to try something new for the test team."

Redding is yet to confirm his future.

By Peter McLaren

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