Ex-MotoGP man Danilo Petrucci down but not entirely out of Dakar Rally debut

MotoGP race winner Danilo Petrucci will restart with a huge penalty after technical issues ruin what had been an stellar start on his Dakar Rally debut

Danilo Petrucci - Tech 3 KTM, Dakar Rally

Former MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci’s hopes of a representative result on his keenly anticipated Dakar Rally debut has been scuppered after technical issues on Stage 2 forced him to retire.

The two-time MotoGP rider - who only competed in his swansong GP event little more than six weeks ago - was making an ambitious bid to revert to rally raiding in one of the world’s most gruelling motorsport events.

Despite short preparation time, a fracture to his ankle sustained during training and contracting COVID in the days before it started, Petrucci was already showing eye-catching form with an excellent 13th fastest time on the 514km Stage 1B, faster than 2021 winner Kevin Benavides.

However, his hopes of building on this during Stage 2 were halted after 114km when an electrical problem on his Tech 3 Racing prepared KTM 450 Rally forced him to stop.

Despite attempts to fix it himself, he eventually had to concede defeat, sending up the recovery flare and watching as his machine was airlifted out of the desert by a helicopter.

Petrucci’s Dakar adventure isn’t entirely over, however, with the Italian able to use a ‘joker’ that allows him to re-enter and continue. However, it comes with the cost of an 11 hour penalty that drops him towards the bottom of the classification and without a chance of fighting back to the upper echelons.

The outcome is especially cruel for Petrucci since at the time of his stop he was among the top three fastest riders on the stage.