Petrucci: Everyone waved - my bike was on fire!

'...Then they said 'look, look' and the bike was on fire!" - Danilo Petrucci, Valencia MotoGP.
Petrucci: Everyone waved - my bike was on fire!

Danilo Petrucci will start Sunday's Valencia MotoGP season finale from fourth on the grid after dodging a fiery incident in final practice.

As the Pramac rider pulled up for a practice start at the end of FP4, flames could be seen licking from the side of his GP18.

Or at least the flames could be seen by the fans and marshals...

"Unfortunately the fairing was a little bit too close to the exhaust and when I tried the practice start I could see everyone waving at me. So I [waved back], then they said 'look, look' and the bike was on fire! So they were not cheering at me," smiled Petrucci.

"I got the bike back for qualifying. I used the other bike for safety, but it was not a big problem.

"Anyway, I'm happy to be here [fourth]," added the Italian, who had been quickest in the fully wet FP2 and FP3 sessions, before lapping just 0.1s from pole in a dry qualifying.

"I expected something more, but you never know when the track switches from wet to dry, sometimes you find some surprises.

"But I'm really confident. I'm pushing really 110%. Especially from this morning I'm risking a little bit more compared to the other races because I have nothing to lose tomorrow."

Petrucci is prepared to take a risk in order to try and bridge the five-point gap to top satellite rival Johann Zarco, who will start eleventh on the grid after a fall in qualifying.

Zarco is in-turn tied on points with Alex Rins, which means Petrucci is one of the riders in with a chance of snatching fifth in the world championship, before stepping up to the factory Ducati team.

"I have nothing to lose, but for sure I want to finish and have a good race," Petrucci said. "Then, looking at the points, its Johann that has to take care because for me the most important thing is the top Independent, even if fifth [in the title] is interesting.

"But I have to recover five points and it's a lot. So I have to risk something because if Johann is clever he can just stay close behind me and it's enough.

"Also, I don’t know the track conditions tomorrow and as always there are many, many riders ready to fight for the victory.

"We are one of them, but I think Marc, Vinales, Rins, Iannone, Dovizioso - there are many names - can fight for the podium in every weather condition.

"So as always there are too many riders for the podium places.

"The best thing is that I don’t have to go to bed thinking, 'will it rain or not?' because every condition will be good for me. I'm quite relaxed that it could be a good race."