This weekend's Spanish MotoGP at Jerez will be the third different circuit that new Tech3 rider Danilo Petrucci has experienced on the KTM RC16.

And it could be the most significant so far, since the Italian believes: "Most of the time, when you are OK in Jerez, you are fast at most of the other circuits as well.”

Petrucci scored his first KTM points with 13th place in Portimao but is still very early in his learning curve on the Austrian machine.

That's not only due to MotoGP's Qatar-only pre-season testing programme, but also the need for a completely different set-up to suit the double Ducati race winner's 1.81m height and 80kg weight.

For comparison, the other KTM riders are 1.70m/64kg (Miguel Oliveira), 1.70m/63 kg (Brad Binder) and 1.79m/70kg (Iker Lecuona).

KTM seems happy to pursue a bespoke Petrucci bike, including a longer wheelbase for more stability, and the list of new parts at Monday's post-race test is rumoured to include some items specifically aimed at helping the #9 feel more comfortable.

But the base package is unlikely to be changed for the race weekend, leaving Petrucci to focus on set-up at the twisty, challenging track, where he should also suffer less from the lack of top speed experienced in Qatar and Portimao.

“I’m very happy to ride my bike again at a different track. Jerez is a quite difficult, but very interesting circuit," he said.

"Normally, we always test there a lot and due to the nature of the track with many slow and many fast corners and also hard braking areas, it’s the ideal place to work on the bike.

“Therefore, I hope we can continue to improve our setup there in order to be faster. I’m really looking forward to ride in Jerez and I will do everything to improve our position and the bike in general."

Petrucci was left battered and bruised when he fell on oil during testing on the eve of last year's Jerez season-opener, then finished ninth in the race, before falling in round two the following weekend.

Team-mate Lecuona arrives at Jerez having also scored his first point in Portimao, but was a distant 20s behind Petrucci and 44s from the leading KTM of Binder (fifth) prompting a public hurry-up from team boss Herve Poncharal.

“This weekend in Jerez, I know that I need to continue to work hard and I need to improve a lot," Lecuona said. "I hope I can regain my good feeling with the bike from last year finally. There’s not very much to say but I need to improve the level of my performance this weekend at the Jerez circuit.”

“We had two races back-to-back in Jerez last year and we have some interesting data from 2020," Poncharal said. "Hopefully, both Danilo and Iker will feel more at ease on the bike.

"We've got to work with the package we have, with the tyre allocation we have and clearly, we could see especially with Brad Binder in the last race, that our package with the current tyre allocation can work well.

"I also know that we have a test on Monday following the GP, which will be very important as we could only tested in Qatar prior to the season. I know that KTM, Michelin and Tech3 have quite few things to try.

"Finally, we hope it will be the real start of the MotoGP season for the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing team.”

KTM took a best finish of sixth in last year's Jerez opener and looked set for better in race two, only for after Binder and Oliveira to collide at the opening corner of the grand prix.

 

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