MotoGP: Danilo Petrucci to make his return at Thailand with Suzuki

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Danilo Petrucci will make a surprise return to MotoGP this weekend in Thailand as a replacement for Joan Mir at Suzuki.

Mir is still struggling with his broken right ankle, an injury caused by his huge crash at the Austrian Grand Prix in August. The Spaniard sustained a fracture to the talus bone and suffered ligament damage.

Petrucci left the MotoGP paddock at the end of the 2021 season after losing his seat at Tech3 KTM, with the Austrian manufacturer opting to promote both Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez from Moto2.

Since then, the Italian has become a Dakar Rally Stage Winner and finished second overall in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, ending his campaign just 20 points behind Jake Gagne.

“Needless to say, I’m so happy for the chance to race in Thailand with Team Suzuki Ecstar,” Petrucci said. “I want to thank the team for giving me this fantastic opportunity. I also want to thank Ducati and my current team management for letting me take this stand-in ride.

“I’m really curious to jump on the GSX-RR and try it, it looks very fast, and we know it’s a winning machine. I’m also eager to work with the Suzuki crew that I’ve known for a long time now and we have a wonderful relationship.

“I know it won’t be easy, so I’m not putting any expectations on the experience, I just was to enjoy it. I’m also excited to be one the few riders in history jumping from a MotoGP machine to a Dakar bike, a Superbike and then another factory MotoGP bike!”

Petrucci celebrates his Mugello victory in 2019

Petrucci made his MotoGP debut in 2012 on an Ioda CRT-spec machine and worked his way up through the field via Pramac Racing Ducati and then the factory Ducati team. Petrucci secured an emotional victory at Mugello in 2019, before winning in the wet conditions at Le Mans in 2020.

Petrucci lost his factory seat to Francesco Bagnaia at the end of that season, switching to Tech3 KTM as a result. A tough campaign followed, and despite losing his GP ride, Petrucci stuck with KTM for his first attempt at the Dakar Rally.

On his way to second in MotoAmerica, Petrucci secured five race wins onboard the Warhorse Ducati Panigale V4 R, as well as a grand total of 16 podiums.

“Unfortunately, after a new MRI, doctors have confirmed that Joan’s situation is improving but not enough to allow him to race in Thailand,” Suzuki Team Boss Livio Suppo said. “Therefore, he will continue his rehabilitation in order to be fit for Phillip Island.

“We would like to thank Ducati for allowing Danilo this opportunity. We know Danilio is a “flagship” for them, and we really appreciate it – it goes to show that passion and understanding is more important than anything else in our sport. We therefore welcome Danilo to our team, and we will do our best to make this weekend unforgettable for him.”

Petrucci is the third rider to stand-in for Mir. Japanese Superbike rider Kazuki Watanabe replaced the 2020 champion at Misano, whilst test rider Takuya Tsuda competed for the team at Motegi last weekend.