For some, the Qatar tests have already begun, while others must wait until tomorrow. Danilo Petrucci is one such rider, keen to start his new life as a rider with the Tech3 KTM team, a satellite outfit that is closer than ever to the mother company.
“I’m keen and curious to start - begins Danilo – as we have everything we need to do well. I wanted to be in a familiar atmosphere like that of Tech3, while benefiting from a factory bike. This team demonstrated its potential last season, and it would be great to repeat those results. I’m not worried, as we have everything the factory team has”.
Danilo will be up against three very tough fellow KTM riders, although he’s unsure who is the strongest.
“It’s hard to choose one, as all three know the bike better than me and are fast. Two of them won races last year, and Lecuona showed to be a strong rookie. It’ll be tough to battle this trio, but that’s what I’m here for”.
Petrucci: “First goal: riding position”
As for this specific test, Petrucci outlines the plan with which to exploit the five days they have on track in Doha.
“First I need to find a good riding position. We’ve already done tests in the wind tunnel, but you always understand more once you ride. I hope the wind drops tomorrow as it’s really strong today and we have a lot to do. Over the five days, I hope to find a good base setting, making the most of the track time”.
Having so many days at the same track, which is also the stage for the first two races, is definitely unusual. The details will make the difference, as Petrucci well knows.
“Working on the race tyres can make the difference, in order to be quick over the last five laps, seeing as we’re all very close and we often have a group race in Qatar. Then you need to be able to put together a good qualifying lap. Over the first two days of testing, I’ll try to adapt and then work on the most important aspects over the following three days”.
“I enjoyed the 24-hour isolation”
As he waits to climb aboard his KTM, Danilo can be pleased with his physical condition, the rider now back in top shape.
“I struggled physically last year, paying later in the season for the crash at Jerez. I had various neck problems, which then extended to my right arm, so after the rally in Sardinia I decided to stop. I did a lot of exercises in December and January and then stuck to a really tough training schedule. They really helped me at the KTM performance centre too, and I’m pleased with where I am right now”.
A difficult path, but one that meant Petrucci appreciated what others might have deemed a dull period of hotel isolation. “I enjoyed yesterday’s 24-hour isolation. I’d trained every day since December so I wouldn’t have minded an extra day of isolation to be honest (he smiles)”.
Translated by Heather Watson