Petrucci switched to WSBK this season with satellite Ducati squad Barni Racing following his first foray into Superbike racing with a campaign in MotoAmerica with the Italian marque last year in which he just fell short of the title.
After a difficult opening part of the season, Petrucci experienced an upturn in form in last month’s fifth round of the season Misano, qualifying fourth but crashing out the first two races, claiming only a seventh-place finish in the finale.
By contrast, at Donington the 32-year-old scored a season-best result of fourth in Saturday’s opening race at Donington before going to finish third in the final race on Sunday behind works Ducati man Alvaro Bautista and the Yamaha of Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Looking back on his success, Petrucci said his pace around Donington came as a surprise but admitted he previously envisaged his first WSBK podium would come much sooner.
“This track was basically new for me but I like it a lot,” said Petrucci, who last raced at Donington in 2009 in Superstock 600. “It reminds me of the older tracks, like the ones I raced on in the US last year. I didn’t expect to be so strong though.
“I’m so happy because everything went wrong at Misano. We probably had the potential for a podium there, and I was strong again on Saturday, so I told myself, ‘I just have to try’.
“Everyone thinks that MotoGP is the best, but you have to ride here to understand that Toprak, Alvaro and Johnny [Rea] are the level of the top MotoGP riders.
“The other riders want to beat me because I’m a MotoGP race winner. They are all hungry. I’m not afraid to say I imagined it would be easier to get [a podium] after wins and many podiums in MotoGP, but it was quite difficult.”
Petrucci added that he won’t be satisfied until he achieves his ambition of standing on the top step of the podium in WSBK and emulating other ex-MotoGP racers who achieved the same feat like Carlos Checa, Max Biaggi and the late Nicky Hayden.
“I’m here to win one race,” he said. “Last year, when I was racing in the USA, I looked at the list of riders who had won a race in both MotoGP and WSBK. There were only big names on that list and I told myself I wanted to be one of them.
“The reality was pretty harsh. At the beginning of the season I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision to return to a world championship. You have to learn new things all the time.
“I love racing, but I want to be at the front. My mission now is to win a race. But it’s almost impossible because of Alvaro - maybe I’ll have to wait until he retires!”