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Despite having his best season in MotoGP™ last year, including that famous Italian Grand Prix victory, Danilo Petrucci will not be in the red of Ducati from 2021 onwards. Rumours are continuing to swirl about where the loveable Italian may end up, but one thing is for certain, his "Plan A is to remain in MotoGP". Speaking with Italian MotoGP™ broadcaster, Sky Sports Italia, Petrux confirmed he "would like to race with KTM or Aprilia" in 2021, but they're not without a variety of hurdles that he must overcome.
The first option: KTM. The Austrian factory look set to lose their key rider Pol Espargaro to Repsol Honda next year, leaving a seat available in the factory team. However, Petrucci's current teammate Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) has long been linked with a switch to the orange of KTM and Petrucci is well aware of that. The Italian described the current rider market as "a chessboard, which will move first through Dovi". Therefore, despite his interest in switching to KTM, the 29-year-old must wait to see if Dovizioso will stick or twist.
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"The news about Pol Espargaro to Honda opens a different scenario," said Petrucci, when asked about his 2021 options. "This is a championship played by team managers, because as there are no races, we riders cannot do much to change things. It is a chessboard, which will move first through Dovi. I know they are discussing to find agreement, even if I do not know the terms. And then it also depends on what Valentino will do. Right now there are riders who have priority. We will first have to fix those, the most valuable pieces, then I come a little later."
Then, there is Aprilia. It's no secret the Noale factory will want an Italian rider on their Italian built machine, but that currently looks in jeopardy after Andrea Iannone's recent suspension. As a result, Petrucci could be a prime target for Aprilia as they look to add more experience to their line-up, after Aleix Espargaro confirmed recently he looks set to remain for a further season.
No stranger to Aprilia either after his early years in the MotoGP™ paddock, Petrux says it wouldn't be the first time he has negotiated with them: "For many years we tried to find an agreement with Aprilia but, in the end, the choice of continuing down this path paid off, where starting from the bottom lead me to the official Ducati team. Now there has been a lot of interest in their new bike. But they too are experiencing a very delicate situation with the riders. Aleix deserves the renewal, and there is the Iannone question, which nobody knows how it will end. Given that I am sorry, because I respect Andrea very much, so I would be sorry to see him free up his ride because he of his sentence.
"I would like to complete what has been done so far because last year, although the second part of the season declined, it was my best season. Since I started racing I have always improved, and I want to improve further. I don't feel fulfilled and complete. Then to understand what colour the bike will be, you have to evaluate a lot of things. We don't have a real negotiation in MotoGP. We are talking, but there are moves that change the balance every day.
"Absolutely, KTM interests me. Aprilia also interests me, the new bike has raised a lot of curiosity because it was quick right away, which is rarely seen in racing. The tests were very strong, so I would like to go to Aprilia. I would like to go to KTM because they also have a growing trend. In fact, Pol Espargaro’s decision to leave is a bit surprising, since he was the cornerstone of the project. But they are two factories that could take advantage of my experience since I have been in MotoGP for a few years. And I'd like to be available for a growing project. KTM managed to get a podium, Aprilia still hasn’t, but they are two factories that want to go to the top and I would like to race with one of the two."