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4 days ago
By motogp.com

Petrucci: Maybe I wouldn't have retired if I had that bike

The two-time MotoGP™ race winner donned the Suzuki colours in Thailand as he made a memorable MotoGP™ return

Title talk has dominated the headlines over the past few days, and deservedly so, given that two points now just separate the top two in the Championship. Three more riders can consider themselves realistic contenders in a fight that seems like it is going to go down to the very wire.

However, one of the more feel-good stories of the weekend in Thailand happened away from the upper tiers of the premier class, with Danilo Petrucci making his MotoGP™ return. Regarded as one of the bubblier characters within the paddock, it was a welcome sight to see his beaming smile back in the box of a MotoGP™ team.

"One of the biggest gifts life has given me" - Petrucci

The Italian proclaimed it to be “one of the biggest gifts life has given me,” as he spoke to the media on Thursday in Thailand. The two-time premier class race winner rode in place of the injured Joan Mir with Suzuki, and having spent his premier class career on Ducati, KTM and Ioda-Suter and ART machinery, he immediately took a shine to the GSX-RR, saying he wouldn’t have been so quick to walk away from the sport if he had been on it earlier in his career.  

“Maybe if I raced with this bike last year then maybe I would not have quit my MotoGP career. For sure. Because I really enjoyed riding it and I was surprised at the beginning and I thought I would be slower.

“For the position and the ergonomics, it is my first Japanese bike and it is so different. But it is so good. I have no money, otherwise, I would buy this bike! After Dakar, I bought the bike but it was only 15,000 euros. I think this one costs a little bit more and I don’t have all this money!”

The onset of heavy showers on Sunday in Thailand had people murmuring of a Petrucci wet weather masterclass, where he could potentially come from the back of the grid and deep into the point scoring positions, he did after all take one of his two wins in the Le Mans rain. Perhaps peoples’ imaginations were running away from themselves ahead of a delayed lights out, but it was still a very respectable performance from Petrux who took the chequered flag 20th, just 42 seconds behind the race winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing).

“No laps in the wet on this bike so was it very tough and I would like to thank this team for the great effort. They almost did the setup blind because we didn’t know anything about the wet and so on. I’m happy. I was not last…and this means a lot!” said Petrucci post-race.

“With a wet warm-up it could have been better and I would have liked to have scored one point but I’m happy. For me, it has been a great pride to race with Suzuki and I would like to thank all the team. I’m so happy and satisfied. Considering I jumped on this bike Friday morning and the other guys have been on there for 17 races, I’m satisfied.”

Petrux retired from MotoGP™ at the close of 2021, but not without new adventures on the horizon. First participating in the world-renowned Dakar Rally with KTM, where he rather unbelievably won a stage of the race in just his fifth appearance. Then MotoAmerica came calling, and Petrucci was in a straight shootout with Jake Gagne for the title, but it eventually fell the way of the American in the final round.

It’s been a very busy and restless 18 months for him, and for now, the only thing he wants to do is rest.

“I’m so tired, I promise that this is my last day of working this year. I would have stopped after Dakar but then I promised to go to MotoAmerica and then to here. I’m really tired and need a bit of rest. It feels like I raced Dakar three years ago! It is already a big thing that I did the Dakar Rally and won a stage and also did MotoGP in the same year. Eleven months ago I was in MotoGP, eight months ago in Dakar. Last week I was in America.

“I have an option in MotoAmerica in Superbike. Fortunately, I can choose but I need to understand if I want to continue or I prepare for no racing and doing the Dakar for ’24. Let’s see. At the moment…I quit my career last year in Valencia. This is a vacation for me and nice to be here and see all of you. I don’t think a rider has come from the Dakar Rally back to MotoGP and for me, it has been a pleasure and something I don’t think I realise quite how nice it was to do."

With Mir likely to return in Australia, it means Petrucci’s visit was only a fleeting one, but hopefully, he won’t be a stranger as the paddock is certainly a better place with his presence.

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