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Lewis Duncan

Petrucci “thought I was slower than I was” in Thailand MotoGP return

The double MotoGP race winner is making his return to the series with Suzuki as 2020 world champion Mir continues to recover from the ankle he broke in Austria in August.

Petrucci last rode a MotoGP bike in Valencia last year on his farewell race on the Tech3 KTM, before embarking first on a Dakar campaign with KTM, and then MotoAmerica Superbikes – where he was championship runner-up – with Ducati.

Friday marked the first time Petrucci rode a Japanese bike in MotoGP and his first inline-four-cylinder engine since the Ioda BMW-powered Suter he raced in 2013.

Last on the combined times, Petrucci ended the day just 2.4s off the best pace, which surprised him as he was convinced he would struggle to even qualify for the race.

“I missed the time attack, but it’s OK just because this morning I was so happy I was not last and this afternoon I felt I could have finished one second from the fastest, 1.3s,” Petrucci said.

“I’m struggling in the first two sectors in the hard braking. In the other parts, the bike is simply unbelievable because you have big lean angle, big corner speed.

“For sure I need to know the bike, the team needs to know me because compared to the other riders I’m quite different in weight and size.

“But I’m so happy for today because I was so scared, so excited, so curious.

“I thought I was slower than I was, so I though this morning when I saw it was not raining I said, ‘I will be disqualified for the race’, and in the end I was just two seconds from the lead and more or less the position I ended last year!”

Danilo Petrucci, Team Suzuki MotoGP (Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images)

Petrucci added that had he raced a Suzuki in 2021, he would have been less likely to have called time on his MotoGP career.

“Maybe if I had raced this bike last year I wouldn’t have quit my career in MotoGP, because I really enjoyed riding this bike,” he said.

“I thought really I could have been slower, but in fact I was a bit slower than the others but not far.

“The position, the ergonomics – this is my first Japanese bike and it’s so different. I have no money, but if I did I would have bought this bike!”

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