Former MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci had an awful race season in 2021. After the Red Bull KTM Factory team and Tech3 KTM satellite squad struggled to find base settings to make the RC 16 competitive on the circuit, Petrucci languished in 21st place in the championship standings. Losing his seat after his 10 years in the MotoGP class, Petrucci took to the dunes of Saudi Arabia in the 2022 Dakar Rally.
Petrux secured a stage win during his first Dakar outing but was forced to retire later in the rally. With his confidence replenished, number 9 returned to the road racing circuit as a rider for MotoAmerica’s Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati team. Petrucci dominated the opening weekend of the national race series, winning both races at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.
The Italian rider’s success at the track was no surprise, though, as MotoGP visits the course annually and Petrucci is familiar with the layout. With the MotoAmerica Superbike series moving on to non-Grand Prix circuits, many thought that Petrucci’s competitors might be able to match his scorching pace at Georgia’s Road Atlanta course.
“I studied a bit of video on YouTube on the onboard video,” Petrucci revealed. “I watched some races. But I thought it was easier. The track is really not for boys but for men, because it’s really different compared to our European standards. There are plenty of bumps and even high curbs. The walls are so close here, but the track is so good. The first corner for me is really, really difficult to approach. I lost a lot of time.”
Thanks to those preparations, Petrucci snagged his third win in a row. The victory came after number 9 battled with reigning MotoAmerica Superbike champ Jake Gagne for first place. Unfortunately for the Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing rider, a small error caused a crash into turn 5 on the sixth lap of the race, clearing the way for Petrux to take the checkered flag. However, the Ducati team’s fortunes turned in race 2, with Petrucci’s failing to finish the race due to a mechanical issue.
After four rounds, Petrucci still sits atop the MotoAmerica Superbike standings. Next, the series will storm the Virginia International Raceway on May 20-22, 2022, where the former MotoGP rider will seek to assert his dominance once again.