Pramac Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci has confirmed that the 2018 season will be his last with the satellite Ducati team as he looks to join Aprilia or the factory Ducati team for the following year.
Petrucci extended his contract in 2017 with a new one year deal, despite being courted as a replacement for Sam Lowes at Aprilia who eventually took Petrucci’s former teammate Scott Redding. The Pramac team is currently in advanced negotiations with Valentino Rossi protege and Moto2 rider Francesco Bagnia regarding a ride with the team in 2019. This move would potentially force Petrucci out with Pramac also welcoming Jack Miller to the fold this season, and ahead of pre-season testing Petrucci has clarified he will not continue with Pramac in 2019.
Speaking to Gazzetta della Sport, he said “[Pramac owner] Paolo Campinoti and I are both aware: he pulled me out from hell, but we knew this would be our last year together,” said Petrucci.
“I have a contract with Ducati, I have an option that expires in June to step up to the factory team – otherwise I am a free agent.”
Petrucci has taken five podium finishes with the team with four of them coming in a stellar 2017 campaign which saw him ride the same GP17 machine that factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso rode. Despite his ambitions to become a Ducati factory rider in 2019, the Bologna outfit has already stated that they are aiming to keep both Lorenzo and Dovizioso on the books, and look ready to fight off competition for Dovizioso from other factory teams following the Italian’s incredible 2017 campaign in which he won six races and fought for the title. Aprilia also seem very happy with Aleix Espargaro so Petrucci may well be aiming to out his former teammate Redding from that team as the season develops.
Of course those are not the only teams Petrucci could aim for, and he has stated that his next move has to be to a full factory team, stating “after seven years in MotoGP, the dream is this”. He was unlucky not to win a race in 2017, particularly in Misano and many would be happy to see the likeable Italian get his big break in the sport.