Former MotoGP racer Danilo Petrucci admits he underrated the World Superbike championship after taking his maiden podium last weekend at Donington Park.
Petrucci joined World Superbike Championship this season with satellite Ducati outfit Barni Racing after his maiden venture into Superbike racing campaign in MotoAmerica with the Italian manufacturer last year, in which he narrowly missed the championship win.
The fifth round of the season in Misano last month marked Petrucci’s return to form after a challenging start to the year. Despite qualifying fourth, he crashed out of the first two races and could only manage a seventh-place result in the final race.
The 32-year-old, on the other hand, finished third in the last race at Donington on Sunday, trailing only works Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu’s Yamaha. This comes after Petrucci recorded a season-best finish of fourth in the opening race at Donington on Saturday.
Reflecting back on his accomplishment, Petrucci admitted that his Donington pace came as a surprise, but he also acknowledged that he had originally expected his first WSBK podium to come along a lot sooner.
“This track was basically new for me but I like it a lot,” said Petrucci. “It reminds me of the older tracks, like the ones I raced on in the US last year.
“I didn’t expect to be so strong though… I’m so happy because everything went wrong at Misano.
“We probably had the potential for a podium there, and I was strong again on Saturday, so I told myself, ‘I just have to try’.
“Everyone thinks that MotoGP is the best, but you have to ride here to understand that Toprak, Alvaro and Johnny [Rea] are the level of the top MotoGP riders.
“The other riders want to beat me because I’m a MotoGP race winner,” he added. “They are all hungry.
“I’m not afraid to say I imagined it would be easier to get [a podium] after wins and many podiums in MotoGP, but it was quite difficult.”
Petrucci declared that he will not be content until he realizes his dream of winning the WSBK and following in the footsteps of former MotoGP racers Carlos Checa, Max Biaggi, and the late Nicky Hayden by winning a race.
“I’m here to win one race,” Petrucci said. “Last year, when I was racing in the USA, I looked at the list of riders who had won a race in both MotoGP and WSBK.
“There were only big names on that list and I told myself I wanted to be one of them. The reality was pretty harsh.
“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision to return to a world championship. You have to learn new things all the time.
“I love racing, but I want to be at the front. My mission now is to win a race. But it’s almost impossible because of Alvaro – maybe I’ll have to wait until he retires!”