Octo Pramac Racing team rider Danilo Petrucci was a man certainly on a mission as he finished the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley in third; making it two Ducatis on the podium at the home track of the Autodrmo del Mugello.
Difficult start to the weekend for Mugello
Petrucci finished Free Practice 1 in seventh but dropped to 10th during Free Practice 2. The ever important and highly competitive Free Practice 3 saw Petrucci crash on his first lap out of the pits and then go on to finish 13th which meant that he had to do what he could to finish in the top two during Qualifying 1, for the chance to start from the front four rows.
He was pipped to the top of the timesheets by rookie, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech3) by 0.083 seconds, but the 0.079 gap between him and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) meant he had done enough, and after a short break he was back out on track challenging further in Qualifying 2 where he recovered more positions and started from ninth on the grid.
Petrucci started from ninth on the grid at his home grand prix
Ninth on the grid usually at this level, someone who is ninth is unlikely to be challenging for the podium but Petrucci thundered through the pack. It was overcast on race day and during the morning warm-up session Petrucci was 10th on the timesheets. However, for the race, he opted for the hard front and medium compound rear Michelin tyre; a choice that would prove to be vital and more than likely well informed as the Ducati team use the Italian circuit for testing.
Petrucci got a fantastic start and immediately recovered two positions slotting in in seventh behind the Repsol Honda duo of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez. He passed those within three laps, and then on lap five overtook the factory Ducati being ridden by Jorge Lorenzo. As the leaders battled it out for positions ahead of him he continued pressing on and emerged victorious from a battle with fellow Ducati rider, Alvaro Bautista (Pull & Bear Aspar Team).
Twelve laps on home turf and he was there
By the 12th lap he was in fourth and on the back of the lead group. The Movistar Yamaha riders, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales, both had the lead momentarily, but Andrea Dovizioso who went on to become race winner, and the first Ducati rider to win at their home track, bypassed them both.
Despite working hard to chase Vinales after passing Rossi, Petrucci simply ran out of laps and finished third in front of his home fans just 2.334 seconds behind Dovizioso and 1.281 behind Vinales. He collected 16 points as well as a podium in Mugello, which now means he is eighth in the championship with 42 points.
Third for Petrucci at his home grand prix
Collecting his first podium on the 2017 evolution of the Ducati Desmosedici, that the Ducati riders appeared to have struggled with up until this point in the season, the Italian rider was incredibly emotional. He knew that on race day he “had to stay with the other guys in front for to do a good race” and initially when he found himself in fourth behind Vinales, he was thinking to “wait for the last lap”, but then he said to himself, “It’s your home grand prix…”
Petrucci analyses what it took to earn his podium
First he explained how he took on and passed Rossi, and then “after one lap [he] pass Maverick” which when he was left thinking, “it’s left only one rider”. He did “try with Dovi” but found that it was “not so easy” although it was “very, very close”. Then, trying to stay with Dovizioso he used up his rear tyre.
After he lost second to Vinales he decided to “look behind if maybe Valentino was a little bit far” but found that he was not. Instead he said, “I managed to stay on the podium and it was a great day for me.”
Discussing his pass on Rossi in front of what would be home fans for the both of them, he revealed it was “quite difficult to pass him first of all” and that he “expect him faster” and to “give something more on the last laps”, he coached himself by saying, “You are on the podium but you have to finish the race first.”
Important podium for the Italian manufacturer
Knowing that “with Valentino behind it’s never easy” Petrucci spoke of how he gave all that he had. Describing how that factory Ducati is 45 minutes from Mugello, with their workshop in Sienna which is less than a mile away, he also explained that he lives two hours away and that for him Mugello is his home grand prix. He revealed he felt “there was a lot of pressure” but he found he could manage all the weekend which he described as “incredible”.
He was “sorry for Valentino” who also wanted to win in front of his home fans, especially after his Motocross incident and crashing out of the previous round in Le Mans with corners to spare. But Petrucci said, “Races are races” and that if he “could win the race” which he tried to do but “Dovi was stronger”, he said the fellow Italian, “really finished me”. He then went on to reminisce of how he had battled with Vinales since 2015 but the Spaniard, “always passed [him] at the last lap”.
Emotional podium for Petrucci in Mugello
Petrucci was reduced to tears on the podium of his home grand prix, which was surrounded by over 98,000 fans creating one hell of a party atmosphere. He said, “If anyone ask me what can you give for stay on the podium on Sunday? I say, I could sell my house to stay on the podium here”. He felt third in Mugello was “unbelievable” after at the beginning of day two he “crash on the first lap out of the box”.