From zero to hero – the rise of Danilo Petrucci
From the European STK 600 championship to a double MotoGP race winner, this is the story of Danilo Petrucci
Danilo Petrucci has not always been a household name in MotoGP, the Tech3 KTM rider has come into the class having worked his way up the worst way possible from the European championships. Between 2007 and 2009, Petrucci rode a Yamaha R6 in the European STK600 championships taking 3 wins in 2009 and P4 overall, this was enough to secure the Italian a ride with team Pedercini in the STK1000 championship for 2010.
The 2010 rookie season in the STK1000 championship aboard the Kawasaki was a successful one with Danilo taking six top 10 finishes with a best result of fifth place, for the 2011 season Petrucci moved to the Barni Racing Team on a Ducati, a sign of things to come. This was Danilo’s stand out year, the Italian took four race wins and seven podiums in a season which would crown him the vice-champion behind Davide Giugliano.
Petrucci on the Barni Racing Ducati, 2011
This year was enough for Petrucci to make a shock move to MotoGP, albeit on the worst bike on the grid, but nevertheless on the MotoGP grid, a dream for many people across the world. The rise to the top was a slow burner as the Italian rode for the hugely under performing Came IodaRacing Project which spanned for three seasons, riding their Ioda-Suter before moving to an outdated ART machine. Despite the lack of competitive machinery, Petrucci was able to impress with his results, he was expected to be at the back of the grid every race, however, he was a regular points scorer and finished Valencia 2012 in eighth place.
His consistency and results on an uncompetitive motorbike caught the eye of Pramac Ducati who signed the Italian for the 2015 season, this season finally gave Petrucci the chance to show what he was really worth, given his previous machine, he took ten top 10 finishes, instantly beating his record of one top 10 in a season and rode to an emotional second place at Silverstone 2015, it was a dream come true, Danilo stood next to Italian racing legend Valentino Rossi and was joined by another Italian, namely Andrea Dovizioso, the future teammate of Petrucci.
Petrucci stood with Rossi and Dovizioso
2017 and 2018 were the stand out years for Petrucci at Pramac, before the 2018 season begun the Italian said that 2018 will be his last year in the team after he found out the teams interest in Francesco Bagnaia who was crowned the 2018 Moto2 champion later on that season. The Italian would take five podiums in the 2017 and 2018 seasons scoring 124 points and 144 points respectively, finishing in eighth overall both seasons. The Italian proved himself to be a regular top 10 and even a top 5 finisher.
Finally once Jorge Lorenzo and Ducati parted ways, Danilo Petrucci got a call from Bologna to say that he was going to be a factory Ducati MotoGP rider. From the very bottom to the top, Danilo Petrucci had worked incredibly hard over the years and the reward had paid off, he was getting one of the most coveted seats in motorbike racing racing next to fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso. Danilo began the season with one target and only one thing on his mind. Win a MotoGP race.
The season started well with three 6th placed finishes in a row before a fifth at Jerez, at last Petrucci took his first factory Ducati podium at Le Mans in third place.
As The Notorious B.I.G. once said, “it was all a dream.” Mugello, the first Italian round of season rolled around, it is a track just 80.5km from the Ducati factory which meant that both Ducati riders had pressure on them to perform and win the race at their home track, Petrucci once again was reminded that he needed to win a race this season. Raceday was chaotic, there was a scrap between Petrucci, Andrea Dovizioso and Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez for the win, a battle with many scary overtakes and heart in mouth moments.
The battle between Marquez, Dovizioso and Petrucci
Yet it was meant to be, an Italian rider on an Italian bike at their manufacturers home round, Danilo Petrucci wins his first MotoGP race, it was incredibly emotional as Petrucci celebrated with tears running down his face, he had achieved something very few riders can say they have done, he is a MotoGP race winner. He came from the outskirts of racing, a completely undesired European class, rode an undesired MotoGP bike for years before finally making his way up the ranks through Pramac and finally into the factory team. The goal was met.
This was not to be his last victory in red, he would win again for Ducati at Le Mans 2020 which would be his only podium finish all season long, he struggled a lot in 2020 but he has always excelled when it comes to tricky conditions and Le Mans was absolutely no exemption to this rule. He took an incredibly surprising victory on French soil and was the stand out rider this race, proving to the doubters that his Mugello win was not a fluke. He once again would beat Marquez to the win however this time it was the younger Alex Marquez who would join him in Parc Ferme with the KTM of Pol Espargaro.
Petrucci will ride for the Tech3 KTM squad this year on a bike which is much more suited to his needs and strengths, Petrucci is a heavier and bigger rider and the KTM demands a rider who can muscle it about and force it to work in the rider’s favour which will be a great aid for Petrucci who aims to give Tech3 their third win in the class.
Featured images – www.worldsbk.com