The Pramac team has made an early move, announcing one half of its 2019 line-up, in the shape of Pecco Bagnaia. Does this mean there won't be a place for Danilo Petrucci? Who better to speak to than the man himself…
“Firstly, I want to say that I'm very happy for Pecco, along with Morbidelli I think he's one of the nicest guys in the paddock, as well as a great rider" says Petrux.
Back to the big question - do you feel that you've been let go?“No, not at all. Firstly because when I signed by renewal with Ducati last year, the agreement was clear. There in an option in their favour, valid until the 30 June, to join the factory team. So if I continue racing with Ducati, I'll do so in that team, otherwise I don't know what will happen”.
Is the door closed?“On the contrary, the door to the factory team is open. In addition, Francesco Guidotti (Pramac team manager) has made it clear that he will wait before deciding on a second rider because it's not easy to find another rider like me".
So is it plausible that you might stay in Pramac?“I think that my cycle in this team is finished in a way, it's a Junior Team. I've spoken with Campinoti and the mutual goal is to ensure that I enter the factory team, for this reason this will be the most important season for me”.
has it taken you by surprise that there is already talk of 2019?“It's strange to announce a rider before the season even begins, but we knew this year would be characterised by contract negotiations and not just battles on track”.
Are you putting together a plan B?“Alberto Vergani, my manager, takes care of all that. I've spoken with Ciabatti and we are in agreement that we'll wait a few races before deciding. Of course I know that Ducati's first choices are Dovizioso and Lorenzo, but it also depends on what the two riders are thinking”.
So you're waiting?“I don't have power on the market, I can't go to a team and say: I want to race here. I have to take my time and do well on track”.
What would your first choice be?“Ducati, it's the family I entered into in 2011 as a production test rider and to reach the factory team from there would be a dream come true. If that's not possible, i'll look elsewhere”.
Isn't it a worry having to think about racing and your future at the same time?“Not in my case, maybe because I have a great relationship with both the team and Ducati, they'd told me about Bagnaia. Sure, if a rider is let go for another before the season even starts then that's different. I don't understand and don't agree with this rush in terms of the riders market, but I don't make the rules and so I have to accept it”.
Who will dictate the timings?“First Marquez, Lorenzo, Valentino and Dovizioso will make their moves, followed by everyone else. I'm in the ‘everyone else’ group (he laughs)”.
You'll adapt…“I'd like to start talking about the future mid-way through the championship, as we used to do, so that you have a real idea of each rider's value. Letting a rider go at the start of the year is counter-productive for both him and the team. Luckily, it's not my case, I am racing to earn a place on the factory team”.