Danilo Petrucci may have been unimpressed by the lack of communication surrounding his exit from the Tech3 KTM team for 2022, following confirmation that Moto2 star Raul Fernandez has been given the remaining seat, but KTM then surprised the off-road fanatic with an offer to compete in the Dakar Rally.

"It’s true," Petrucci said of the offer. "I think it was an idea from Mr Pierer [CEO and he proposed that to me on Saturday night. I thought he was joking but he was not because then we start to talk and with also Mr Trunkenpolz and Mr Kinigadner.

"Then two days ago Pit [Beirer] called me and repeated what they more or less told me on Saturday. There is this option and I am taking in my mind. I would always like to race there.

"He said they are ready for 2022 but they would send me there just to watch the panorama and the landscapes [next year] because they think it is quite dangerous if I go there straight to make the race and make a result.

"I would have one year to do training and to do some [rally] races and from 2023 maybe be more competitive. I was really, really happy to know that and it is one of the options for my future. For sure I really want to thank them for this kind offer."

'I weigh almost double Pedrosa!'

With few MotoGP options available, KTM's decision to sign Fernandez almost certainly means Petrucci's ten-year grand prix career will come to an end this season.

"I must say that the most difficult thing to digest is that I still feel competitive but my body is not here anymore," said the double race winner for Ducati. "This is the most difficult thing that my brain needs to understand.

"I always thought to stay in MotoGP for many years but yeah, let’s say, I’m too big for MotoGP! I weigh almost double Pedrosa. I’m like the puppet master of Pedrosa…and most of the other riders! It’s already a lot, what I've done in MotoGP, because a rider as big as me has not been competitive.

"A thing that excites me [about the Dakar] is that no other rider makes this change. Maybe with some years, two or three, I also want to be competitive there. Even if I’m scared because I don’t have much experience in rally, but I’m sure I can manage.

"In the past I thought to make the Dakar for fun and now I am thinking to do it to understand what is my feeling in completely another world and do something that nobody tried in the past is what excites me the most. I would really like."

Asked for his opinion on Petrucci's Dakar chance, factory KTM rider Miguel Oliveira said: "I actually talked during lunchtime with Danilo and asked him about that. He said that obviously it’s nice to have this opportunity but he needs a lot of navigation [training].

"It’s not just about riding skills on a heavier bike off-road. It’s about navigating and that’s the dangerous element about the Dakar. Of course it is something unique but I’m happy for him and happy for KTM’s attitude in embracing him to the family and keeping him in orange."

Petrucci, 80kg and 1.81m tall, is currently 18th in the world championship with a best finish of fifth during his first ten races on the RC16.

Team-mate Iker Lecuona is also leaving Tech3 at the end of this season, when Fernandez and Moto2 title leader Remy Gardner will form an all-new line-up.