Danilo Petrucci becomes the first former MotoGP rider to win Dakar stage
Danilo Petrucci has created history at the 2022 Dakar Rally by becoming the first former MotoGP rider to win a stage at the event.
Petrucci inherited the Stage Five victory after original winner Toby Price was given a six-minute time penalty for a speed limit offence. Petrucci finished the stage just over four seconds behind Price and was therefore named as the winner.
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The Italian has impressed everybody throughout his maiden Dakar outing and originally finished yesterday’s Stage Four in third before being handed a 10-minute penalty for speeding.
Petrucci was on his way to a top five finish in the second stage but was essentially ruled out of the overall running due to a fuel pump issue with his KTM. The MotoGP race winner soon realised that he’d lost his mobile phone, alongside other possessions, and was therefore unable to contact his team for advice and guidance on how to fix the problem.
As a result, he was forced to contact the Dakar officials via the system on his KTM and was hit with a big, however he was allowed to restart as part of the updated 2022 Dakar rules.
“Today was quite a long day,” Petrucci said. “I set off this morning and decided I really wanted to learn and improve my navigation, so I didn’t push too hard at the beginning. After one corner there was a large dune with a group of camels on the other side. One big camel came into the track, and I had to avoid it, but ended up crashing after going across a lot of bumps and camel grass. That was my very first crash of this Dakar.
“After that I eased off a bit and Kevin caught up with me and we rode together towards the finish. After catching a few more riders we came across a waypoint that didn’t validate for everyone – I lost some time there. The last 60 kilometres were all dunes and so I was very careful there to make sure I didn’t hurt my ankle. So, it’s been an interesting and tough day, but I have really enjoyed it.”
Support has been pouring in for Petrucci across social media from fellow circuit racers, motorcycle racing fans, former MotoGP colleagues and members of the media. For sure, his heroics so far are helping to bring the Dakar Rally into the mainstream spotlight.
“I cannot stop crying,” Petrucci responded to Suzi Perry on Twitter. Perry’s original tweet simply said: “LEGEND!”
Friday’s stage six of the Dakar will see the bike class follow the same route that the cars took today. Therefore, despite opening the stage for the first time ever, Petrucci will have some tracks already left in the sand ahead of him.
Sam Sunderland still leads the overall standings after the opening five stages. The Brit holds an advantage of 2.29s over Matthias Walkner. Adrien Van Beveren completes the top three for Yamaha as things stand.