'Happy' Petrucci goes the distance on final night

Danilo Petrucci concludes pre-season MotoGP testing with a full race simulation, during which he was faster than team-mate and 2018 winner Andrea Dovizioso. But single-lap speed a concern, with no Ducatis in the top nine.
'Happy' Petrucci goes the distance on final night

Factory Ducati riders Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso were only tenth and 15th fastest on combined times at the end of MotoGP pre-season testing in Qatar, but it bears little reality to their race potential.

That's particularly the case for Petrucci, one of the few riders to put in a full 22-lap race simulation, during which he outperformed last year's winner Dovizioso, who called a halt after 16 laps.

"I have two spare soft tyres in my pits, which I didn't use, because today the main target was to do the race simulation," Petrucci said.

As at Sepang, the two official Ducati riders planned to conduct their race simulation together, with each leading for half the distance.

But after Dovizioso hit problems, Petrucci rode alone for the last six laps and got back into the 1m 55s (full lap breakdown below).

"We decided, with Andrea, to start with me in front," Petrucci said. "I did my first eleven laps riding in 1m 55s, also low 1m 55s.

"Then we switched with Andrea [in front] after eleven laps, but he was struggling with the front tyre. And we go up one-second with the lap time.

"Then I decided to quit [following him], after four laps. So I did the last six laps alone, and I was able to ride again in a 1m 55.

"For sure in the [single lap] classification we are a little bit far behind, but also we haven't tried a time attack.

"I'm happy about the feeling with my bike. But for sure there are many, many competitors. I think all the factory guys can fight for the podium, also Morbidelli and Quartararo. Many, many riders.

"It will be tough, but I think I have been the only rider to do 22 laps*. I had to switch the position with Andrea in the middle, but [without that] I think I was able to ride all the simulation in 1m 55, so I am happy."

Petrucci added that his race simulation as a Pramac rider one year ago had actually been faster, but feels that is down to the track conditions.

"All the lap times were faster last year. I think there are three or four tenths from the track being a little bit slower. So we have to understand why."

Although Petrucci didn't use all his soft tyres, the lack of any Ducati rider in the top nine means the Italian - stepping up to factory team for his eighth MotoGP season - has concerns over the qualifying pace of the GP19.

"Especially we have to be faster on the single lap. Because on the race pace, we are OK, but we have to start at the maximum in the first two rows. And this is the target for the next two weeks.

"Maybe we are OK with the race bike, but we have to work with the speed on the single lap."

Part of the race pace progress has come from Petrucci finding ways to prolong rear tyre life.

"Yes, I'm happy about this, because I improved a lot. Especially in my riding style, I understood many, many things. Also thanks to Andrea.

"My lap times were very good, especially at the end. But especially the feeling with the rear tyre was OK. For sure it was not my 100% potential, but I improved in this area.

"For sure this track, we haven't suffered so much, because it's very very cold. So we have to wait for Austin, for example, where we struggled a lot, and where the tyre consumption is higher."

The season-opening Qatar night race takes place on March 10.

Danilo Petrucci's race simulation:

  1. 1m 55.878
  2. 1m 55.875
  3. 1m 55.734
  4. 1m 55.829
  5. 1m 55.506
  6. 1m 55.370
  7. 1m 55.473
  8. 1m 55.698
  9. 1m 55.669
  10. 1m 55.675
  11. 1m 55.722
  12. 1m 58.137 (Switched to Dovi in front)
  13. 1m 56.707
  14. 1m 56.597
  15. 1m 56.865
  16. 1m 56.242 (Switched back to Petrucci in front)
  17. 1m 56.170
  18. 1m 55.979
  19. 1m 56.115
  20. 1m 55.750
  21. 1m 56.111
  22. 1m 56.614

Average = 1m 56.078

*Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro also did 22 laps, at an average of 1m 56.404s

Andrea Dovizioso's race simulation:

  1. 1m 56.468
  2. 1m 55.612
  3. 1m 55.480
  4. 1m 55.847
  5. 1m 55.688
  6. 1m 55.349
  7. 1m 55.449
  8. 1m 55.618
  9. 1m 55.590
  10. 1m 56.105
  11. 1m 55.945
  12. 1m 56.965 (Switched ahead of Petrucci)
  13. 1m 56.687
  14. 1m 56.581
  15. 1m 56.899
  16. 1m 57.137

Average = 1m 56.089