Danilo Petrucci says despite reaching his minimum target of a top five finish in Austria he suffered ‘a nightmare’ ending to the race for Pramac Ducati having been hampered by tyre wear at the Red Bull Ring.

The Italian rider lost contact with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow over the closing stages for top independent honours and had to settle for fifth place in Austria while seeing factory Ducati duo Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso both reach the podium.

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Petrucci put his pace drop down to tyre wear over the final laps and feels he was lucky to have a gap to chasing pair Valentino Rossi and Alex Rins to secure his target set before the race.

“The last ten laps were quite a nightmare,” Petrucci said. “Fortunately, I created a gap with Rins, and Rossi starting so far back, so I was lucky that I was in front because in the last ten laps I struggled a lot. I was with Cal but then I had to quit my race with him because he was faster.

“I just suffered a lot of small things, but most of all, the tyre consumption on the right side.

“I was struggling with rear traction. I saw Jorge had very, very good on traction. He's always caring a lot with the throttle, so he's very, very strong on that part.

“Maybe I would try the soft, but with my weight it's always a problem to go softer and softer. For sure the hard this time was not so useful, because we always see the Ducati with the soft rear, and Honda with the hard, so it is difficult to understand.”

Petrucci heads up the top independent battle in the current MotoGP riders’ championship with a one-point advantage on Johann Zarco, with Crutchlow just one further point back, and sees the British rival as a big threat following his resurgence over the past two rounds.

“It was my target to finish in the top five, but sincerely, I wanted to be the best independent,” he said. “I overtook Zarco in the championship but we are only in the middle of the championship.

“Cal in the last two races has been faster than us so we have to close the gap. This is my least favourite track, because 12 kilos more [heavier than his rivals] in all the braking areas is so much, so I stress a lot the front tyre, the rear tyre overheats and we struggle more with fuel consumption.

“So I had to race with low, low power, but this doesn't help me in this long straight. Anyway, I would have signed for a top five, I reached it and I'm quite satisfied for the work we are doing with my team.”

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