Ducati has confirmed that Danilo Petrucci might compete in the World Superbike Championship in 2023, as the company is anxious to keep the ex-MotoGP rider on board for another season.
Petrucci had planned to compete in a full season of cross-country rallying with his former MotoGP team, KTM, this year, but his campaign was cut short after the Dakar Rally in January, despite the Italian rider winning a stage as a rookie riding one of the company’s factory motorcycles.
This allowed Petrucci to rejoin Ducati and join MotoAmerica, where he now leads the 10-round championship by 13 points over Yamaha’s Mathew Scholtz after four rounds.
Gigi Dall’Igna, Ducati MotoGP chief, stated that while winning the MotoAmerica title with Petrucci remains their major goal for the time being, he will examine WSBK as the next step in the Italian’s career for the 2023 season.
While Alvaro Bautista is anticipated to remain as the de facto captain of Ducati’s factory WSBK squad next year, his teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s future is less certain following a disappointing start to his second season with the squad.
“For us, Danilo is an important driver,” said Dall’Igna at the Misano WSBK round last weekend. “America is an important championship and we are working to give him the best possible support in this championship too.”
“Our objective and his is to win this championship. Once we have done that, we will surely think about the future and it is true that one of the options is to make him do the World Superbike Championship, but I would say that it is still early to talk about it.”
Petrucci is expected to make a wildcard WSBK appearance with Ducati at Portimao on October 7-9, just a few weeks after the MotoAmerica season’s last round in late September, to prepare for a full season with the team next year.
When asked if Petrucci might get an opportunity to try his hand at WSBK at the Portuguese round of the championship later this year, Dall’igna said: “I do not deny. Nothing is yet defined and it is not yet established that it will be done, but it is true that’s an interesting prospect that we’ll be thinking about.”
“Danilo is an interesting driver for many reasons, many aspects, he is a rider who has been linked to Ducati for a long time, he has done very good things with us.” said Dall’Igna.
“I repeat it once again, because it is true: every time I think back to his MotoGP victory at Mugello, I am moved because it was something very beautiful, fantastic.”
From 2015 to 2018, Petrucci was a member of Ducati’s MotoGP team, first with satellite team Pramac and later with the factory team, and he won his maiden race on the Italian manufacturer’s home ground in Mugello in 2019.
The following year, he won again at Le Mans before joining KTM in 2021 for what would be his final season in the premier class.