Danilo Petrucci makes good on his debut this weekend for Moto America. Prior to the weekend, the Italian racer was a bit skeptical about just how well he would do. Interviews with reporters suggested that he wasn’t expecting much from his debut race, instead, gunning to just make it to the podium.

Well, Race 1 of the series has concluded, and Petrucci’s not just on the podium, he’s on top of it. Petrucci’s a Dakar stage winner and a former MotoGP racer for Ducati. Now, back on a Ducati, he took to the track once again to claim gold atop his Panigale for Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC.

Petrucci was both excited and humble in the days leading up to his first-ever MotoAmerica race. He then went on to claim the third pole position after the qualifiers, then he managed to gap beat out rivals on the race day like Mathew Scholtz and even the defending champion, Jake Gagne, the latter of which did not get to finish the race.

Prior to the race, Petrucci’s mindset was to “stand on the podium because these guys and also Jake Gagne are really fast.” The Italian also commented on his Dakar rally injuries and how they hampered his performance.

"After the Dakar, I was really tired and broke my ankle and radius on my collarbone, then I broke my knee ligaments training on my motocross bike! I've almost forgotten how to run and feel like I have the legs of another man! So I'm happy but I'm not physically fit.”

The first part of the race had Petrucci mentioning that “[he] was struggling,” as such “[he] tried to manage, also with my rear tire, which was unstable because we only did a little testing and still need to find a set-up.”

Petrucci’s gained a 1.706-second lead over Mathew Scholtz of Westby Racing, who started in the second pole position for Race 1. Jake Gagne was in the first pole at the start of the race, but had to retire due to some technical issues on the warmup lap of the race.

The Italian is off to a good start in MotoAmerica. His debut race win nets him 25 points for the season, and now the question is, can he bring home the championship for the first time? Toni Elias managed to win his debut race and win the championship the year after, but will Petrucci have what it takes to pull off the same feat on his first outing?

Got a tip for us? Email: tips@rideapart.com