KTM: Dakar a 'present' for Petrucci after 'painful' MotoGP split

Pit Beirer says MotoGP split from Danilo Petrucci was 'very painful for me' and Dakar adventure was 'something we can give him as a present'
KTM: Dakar a 'present' for Petrucci after 'painful' MotoGP split

As runner-up in the 1999 250cc Motocross world championship, KTM motorsport director Pit Beirer knows a fast off-road rider when he sees one.

But even Beirer was surprised that Danilo Petrucci was able to take a Stage win on his debut in this year's Dakar Rally.

"He did an incredible job," Beirer said. "When he announced it people thought this is some kind of marketing gimmick, I think nobody understood what the plan was behind it.

"But I really knew what a good off-road rider he is, I knew he had this dream. And we love him as a person."

Petrucci, a double MotoGP race winner at Ducati, spent just a single season with KTM before losing his Tech3 seat to Moto2 stars Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez for 2022.

"The split, that we cannot go on together in MotoGP, was for me very painful and we felt like this is something we can give to him as a present," Beirer said.

"Not because we need another strong rally rider, because I think we have a very strong team, but purely something to give to him out of respect for what he did for us."

To try and reduce the pressure on Petrucci's shoulders, as a rookie in such a risky event, Beirer revealed he switched the usual bonus payment for an incentive to reach the finish.

"He was getting faster every day and won a stage. This was crazy! Way over expectations. Because we paid him a salary and I said, 'but I've cut out all of the bonus' and he was looking at me like 'why?' I said 'we put the second [bonus] part of the salary if you arrive at the finish line'.

"I didn't want him to get that 'hot' that, if he saw there was a podium chance and can take the bonus money, to go too far and crash. But he still won a stage. So all fantastic."

Despite the Dakar success, Petrucci's next challenge is a (to be confirmed) move to the MotoAmerica series with Ducati, a deal that was rumoured even before the Italian began his Saudi Arabian adventure.

"They asked me before if we could offer something straight away, or what is the future in KTM, and at that moment we could not offer him something racing for us on asphalt and I think another door has now opened and he's taken that challenge," Beirer confirmed.

"When he made the [MotoAmerica] plans no one saw in him 'Dakar stage winner'. But I think he also had to see how hard the Dakar is, how dangerous, so I'm also not so sure if he really wants to start a [full time] Rally career.

"But he knows where we are and I'm sure he'll be giving us a call. We want to sit down when everything is a bit more calm and clear, because I don’t know how clear his future is for this summer.

"But we'll have a meeting, look back at the Dakar and he will stay a friend of ours that's clear."

Read More