Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) enjoyed a strong Friday at MotorLand Aragon as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s tenth round of the 2023 season got underway. The Italian rookie was third in both Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 for the Tissot Aragon Round as he looks for a return to the podium, with the #9 only behind his Ducati stablemates in the combined pecking order after Friday’s running.
‘Petrux’ was quick from the outset on Friday as he took third place in Free Practice 1 and set a best time of 1’50.651s, only three tenths slower than pacesetter Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Completing 15 laps in total, the #9 did two runs of differing lengths in FP1. The first was a six-lap run with three laps in the 1’50s bracket and his best of the session coming on lap four of that stint, although it was his last representative time with the next lap seven seconds slower. The second run was seven laps long and all but two were in the 1’51s bracket, ranging from 1’51.187s to 1’51.432s.
It was a similar story in FP2 as the Italian completed two long stints and one short one. His first was six laps long and all but one lap was in the 1’50s bracket, while his second multi-lap stint was four laps long. His best time came on the opening lap of that run, a 1’49.825s, with two more laps in the 1’51s and 1’50s bracket (the one in the 1’51s was cancelled). His best time meant he finished third in FP2, and in the combined classification, behind the Aruba.it Racing – Ducatis of Alvaro Bautista and Michael Ruben Rinaldi with the trio separated by just 0.176s.
Reflecting on his Friday, Petrucci said: “It was good because I immediately got a good feeling. The same feeling as I had during testing here and also during the last round at Magny-Cours. I’m quite positive about it. We’ve found a good base with the bike where it’s working at more or less all the tracks. Let’s see about tomorrow because we noticed a lot of tyre wear and this is the key at the moment, to manage the whole race with a consistent pace. It will be very hard, but we’ll be positive. You have to manage a lot. If you push a lot in the first few laps, the tyres are gone and then you struggle a lot. But if you don’t push, you aren’t fast. It’s always a difficult mix.”
Petrucci’s first podium came at Donington Park back in July and he didn’t have to wait long for podiums two and three to follow, coming at the end of that month when WorldSBK travelled to the Autodrom Most. Although he was fast in France last time out at Magny-Cours, the Italian didn’t stand on the rostrum and he’s hoping to return there this weekend at a circuit he knows very well from his Grand Prix days.
Outlining his goals for this weekend, Petrucci, who’s been confirmed as staying with Barni Ducati in 2024, said: “I want to come back to the podium because, at Magny-Cours, we were fast the whole weekend, but we always had a bit of a bad luck and, in the end, we wanted to be competitive. The podium is possible in these three races. I’m quite worried about the long straight we have at Aragon because I’m not as fast on the straights as the other Ducatis due to my size but I’m positive about this weekend.”
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