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After a great Sepang test, motogp.com spoke with Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Danilo Petrucci about the test and the state of Ducati.
Danilo Petrucci will wear the colours of the Octo Pramac Yakhnich team with pride in 2016 and has already turned heads. The second day of the Sepang test saw ‘Petrux’ atop the times, a great result for both the rider and the team, who have operated as Ducati’s satellite programme for many years. All involved remain highly aware that Petrucci’s time came on the soft tyre and that testing can often throw up unusual and surprising results.
In between sponsor commitments and preparing for 2016, the Ducati rider from Terni picked up the phone to talk with motogp.com.
How are the preparations for the 2016 coming along? Are you focusing more on training on the track or in the gym?
“At this time I am at home, it has been a bit difficult to organize things because I have been out at countless events and you have little time between. It’s still a useful period, we have to keep up the intensity as we are athletes and we must train so much. I personally train a lot with the off-road bike, a lot of gym work, running and, when the temperature begins to rise, I even go out on my bike a lot.”
It was a good start in Sepang, how are you feeling about it?
“Yes, it was a good test for us. But it must be said that these results don’t lead to much now. Right now it’s just looking at times which don’t mean much, everyone is doing preparatory work and, like us, focusing on their package for 2016. Conditions and circumstances helped, but it is much better to start on the right foot than to have suffered problems. The bike, the Ducati Desmosedici GP15, is well tested because it was the prototype for the factory last year and was very strong. So it was a bit easier for us as we only had to marry the new Michelin tires and new electronics together with a proven bike.”
The technical changes are predicted to shake things up; do you feel these predictions will prove correct? What can you gain?
“It must be said that the changes are very important and affect us a lot; maybe from the outside it is hard to understand. The tyres have changed a lot compared to the Bridgestones, they’re very different and finding the right feeling with them is the main task for all the riders. Tyres are fundamental, they are the only part of the bike in contact with the asphalt, it is a matter of subjective feeling for each rider to be able to understand them, the team and technicians can only give you points on how to handle them. But, the work with electronics can be done almost exclusively on the engineer’s side. It is a new unit for 2016 but Ducati have worked hard all winter to make it work in a similar way to the system of 2015, the old private software. On the new one there is now a bit more work to do and at the moment it seems to be on a lower level than the previous one. We are only at the beginning and we must all understand how to manage it as well as how to manage the behaviour of the bike throughout the race, we must try to work hard with the engineers to make sure we have a bike that works well from the start to the finish of a race as well as during Qualifying and Free Practice.”
Petrucci, along with the rest of the MotoGP™ grid, will soon fly to Phillip Island for the second official pre-season test of 2016 to gather more data. After this the 26-year old will have a few days off before departing to Qatar where the third and final test awaits before the season begins in earnest. Attention will quickly turn to the opening Grand Prix at the Losail circuit a few days after this test as the 2016 MotoGP™ World Championship will officially get underway.
It is felt by many that Ducati, with eight riders on grid, may have a slight advantage in data collection for their bikes this year. In your opinion, is this true?
“No, I don’t think it’s true. Indeed, Ducati was penalised a bit compared to last year due to the success they had in 2015. Now we are all equal, so it is not a true statement I feel. Ducati have definitely made some investments with the unified software, using satellite teams to help develop it more and now there is a very slight advantage but only from this point of view. Ducati knew this unified software would come and they started to think about it before the others and to invest both on the financial and human side to be prepared. They’ve done a great job in this respect as nothing has come alone.”
A prediction for the season?
“I think the world will play out as usual; those at the top have something more and are always able to exploit their bikes to the max. But, I also think that with the changes in regulations anything can happen and especially in the first race, there may be some riders that are fitter and bikes more advanced, but I do not want to expect anything. I know how I work and I know what we can do if I do my job well. I have accumulated a lot of experience, it’s my second year with the Pramac team and we’re hoping to exploit this experience and treasure what comes.”
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