Danilo Petrucci recently made headlines as he became the first MotoGP rider to win a stage on the infamously challenging Dakar Rally. It was the highpoint of an incredible rollercoaster ride of a year with KTM, who had just deemed him surplus to requirements at their Tech3 MotoGP feeder team.

As it happens they offered him a lifeline, a factory backed ride in the Dakar Rally, something most might have seen as an insult considering just how different the disciplines are. Petrucci didn’t see it that way though, he saw it as an opportunity, an opportunity that he took willingly with both hands.

Related: Why The Yamaha Factory Team Will No Longer Take Part In The Dakar And FIM Rally Series

9 Early Years

Danilo Petrucci
MotoGP

Like many professional riders, the Italian national started out on dirt bikes at a young age and showed great promise.

066_p03_petrucci_action_full
WorldSBK

By 16 he was racing in the 600 class sportbikes and after several years racing Superstock machines he finally got his first big opportunity in 2012.

8 Opportunity With IodaRacing

IodaRacing
Flickr

IodaRacing might have been a smaller MotoGP team near the back of the pack, but they afforded him invaluable experience racing at the highest level.

Danilo_Petrucci_-_2014_Motorcycle_GP_of_the_Americas
Commons

Although his bike wasn’t particularly competitive, he was able to finish in the points occasionally, it also served as an advertisement to other teams of what he might be capable of achieving on better machinery.

7 Big Break With Pramac

Ducati

After three seasons near the back of the pack with IodaRacing Ducati came knocking in 2015, offering him the opportunity of a lifetime, a full factory backed ride with their Pramac feeder team.

petrucci2017
GPone.com

Ducati had not been able to replicate their success of the 2000s and had been stuck in the midfield for some time, that is where Petrucci seemingly set up camp for most of his first season until he announced himself on the big stage, taking his first podium in a wet race that year.

Related: This Is Ducati’s Look For The 2022 MotoGP Season

6 Highs And Lows With Ducati

Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP Motorcycle Race Bike
via motorcyclespecs.co.za

In 2019, Ducati gave him a chance to show what he could do with their works team, he repaid the faith they put in him by winning his first MotoGP race and finishing a solid 6th that year.

Danilo Petrucci Ducati
Visordown
 

Sadly, in 2020 his season unraveled with a string of poor results on a bike that quite frankly deserved better. While the bike looked fast, Petrucci couldn't gel with it, and his lowly 12th place finish wasn’t enough to convince Ducati that he deserved another year at the top to prove his worth.

5 KTM Tech3 Lifeline

374329-danilo-petrucci-9-tech3-ktm-factory-racing-motogp-team-presentation-2021-16-1613142380
GPone.com

After promoting Miguel Oliveira to their main team, KTM had a vacant seat and threw Petrucci a lifeline with a short term contract. It would turn out to be another season filled with disappointment for the Italian rider though, as he was never able to find a rhythm on the bike which was very different from the Ducati he was used to.

2022 Tech3 KTM Factory MotoGP Team Bikes And Riders

By the end of the season, nobody could blame them for not renewing his contract, but it was just very disappointing to see how badly they handled it, with Petrucci essentially finding out when they announced the new rider lineup for the following year.

Related: Check Out The KTM MotoGP 2022 Race Bikes

4 Too Big For MotoGP

374341-danilo-petrucci-9-tech3-ktm-factory-racing-motogp-team-presentation-2021-5-1613142380
GPone.com

Most MotoGP champions weigh less than 150 pounds, at this level, it actually does make a difference. The bikes have minimum weights, but the riders do not.

Courtesy Bike Nation

Petrucci on the other hand weighs around 170 and in 2021 he was also the tallest rider in the field at almost 6 foot. His talent was enough to get him to the highest level, but to become a champion would have required him to ride above his capabilities' week in, week out.

3 Dakar Move

Former MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci At Dakar 2

As much as he had a background riding dirt bikes, like most MotoGP riders, he had never ridden them professionally.

Former MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci At Dakar

The Dakar is not an event anyone would think of as a good entry point into the world of rally raid riding. Simply not embarrassing himself, or worse, getting injured would have been a more than acceptable outcome, but he was able to do more than that.

Related: These Are The Most-Winning Dakar Rally Riders Of All Time

2 Emotional Stage Victory

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KTM

On the 5th stage of the rally, he would make history by becoming the first MotoGP rider to win a stage of the grueling Dakar Rally.

Petrucci-Interview-1024x600
44Teeth

While being interviewed after the stage win, it was clear to all just how much the stage win meant to him, an overjoyed Petrucci broke into tears, clearly feeling some form of redemption after getting unceremoniously dumped out of MotoGP.

1 MotoAmerica Beckons

MotoAmerica Ducati
Roadracing World

Ducati once again came knocking, this time offering him the seat vacated by Loris Baz, another unusually tall rider who got an opportunity in SBK.

via motoamerica.com

For Petrucci it is one more year doing what he loves; racing motorcycles. With nothing left to prove to anyone, don’t be too surprised if you see him fighting for podiums on a regular basis.

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