Michele Pirro to Replace Danilo Petrucci at Argentina and Beyond if Necessary

The Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati team yesterday confirmed that Michele Pirro will substitue for Danilo Petrucci during the Italian's absence. Petrucci was forced to pull out of the Qatar Grand Prix after bone fragments from his the broken metacarpals in his right hand displaced while riding. Petrucci had broken his hand in a crash during testing at Phillip Island, and had tried to ride despite it being just 22 days after surgery, where normally the recovery periods is at least 4 to 6 weeks.

The announcement that Pirro will be replacing Petrucci came as a disappointment to many fans who had been hoping that Casey Stoner would step in to replace the injured Italian. However, speaking to the official MotoGP.com website, Stoner made it perfectly clear that he had no intention of racing, and wanted to focus solely on testing. "Honestly my biggest goal is to try and get some tests out of the way, so that we can try and improve the bike underneath the Ducati riders and hope that we can move them forward to be even more competitive than we were in race 1," Stoner said. "This is the most important thing, so we have no thoughts of wildcards or replacements, or anything like this."

Speculation that Stoner might step in for Petrucci arose in part because a similar situation arose at the start of 2015, while Stoner was still a test rider for HRC. Then, Stoner had offered to replace Dani Pedrosa, who had pulled out to seek treatment for arm pump. Stoner rejected any comparison with early 2015, however. "Just because it's a similar situation to last year, I'm not approaching it in any way the same," he told MotoGP.com. The decision not to stand in for Pedrosa had been down to HRC. The decision not to race for Petrucci is entirely Stoner's own.

Pirro will stand in for Petrucci in Argentina, and until Petrucci is fully fit. That is likely to be Jerez at the earliest, after Petrucci had yet more surgery on his right hand to fix the fractured metacarpals. From the photo Petrucci posted on Twitter, it was clear that the damage is quite extensive.

The press release from the Pramac team announcing Pirro as a replacement appears below:

Michele Pirro will replace Danilo Petrucci

Michele Pirro will replace Danilo Petrucci on Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati Desmosedici Gp. The Ducati test rider will be present in Argentina for the second 2016 MotoGP round and will run until the return of Petrux who has undergone surgery on his right hand again on Monday

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Taking that Michele Pirro is the No1 Ducati test rider having been there since 2013 & first choice to take the place of the injured Danilo Petrucci. Taking into consideration that Casey Stoner has repeatedly said that he has no intention of racing, what would happen if Andrea Dovizioso or Andrea Iannone had the misfortune to succumb to an injury, would Casey Stoner then be forced into a racing situation?

That is a really good question. I think we then get a different calculation. I still think it's Michele Pirro who would be favorite to replace either of the Andreas, but I also think Stoner replacing one of the factory riders makes more sense than replacing Petrucci. I believe Pirro is also racing in the Italian CIV championship again, and if those dates clash, that would make it more likely for Stoner to be a replacement too.

I don't think Stoner is absolutely dead set against racing, but the impression I get is it is very low down on his list of priorities.

I get the feeling that in the back of his head he really isn't dead set against it if the situation were right. But given that the media hassles him about it constantly, I think no is his go to answer.

I'm not too familiar with MotoGP factory strategies, but isn't the problem with Stoner the fact that he's too fast for a wildcard?

If I remember correctly, that was the real reason Honda refused his ride previously since Marquez was down on points and Stoner's times from the tests made it very likely that he could beat Marquez and take valuable championship points from him.

I assume the same issue applies here with Ducati, as this year Iannone and Dovi are definitely in the championship hunt and would rather not lose points to a test rider.

The real problem is that Stoner doesn't want to race. Ducati told Stoner he could race if he wanted to, the choice was up to him. He didn't want to race.

If we just relax a bit, he is saying they aren't planning for that NOW. Last year he wanted to and wasn't able. Little reason to insist upon trying to make a movie out of a snapshot.

If you bug me after work with a recorder and microphone insisting that I tell you if I am going to do (x) or not in the future, we have to just deal with getting a now based answer that leaves something fallow until it is fertile. It isn't personal. Or even very interesting.

He will do a replacement or wildcard ride right after it is announced.

Pirro can hold his own btw, good rider.

I would just like to echo what motoshrink has said. Michele Pirro is more than capable(as we all know) of putting that Duc inside the top 10(or thereabouts) on raceday.

If Casey decides to race due to unforeseen circumstance then we will see him in fp1 @ whatever whatever, but that is not happening now.

Pirro is the replacement & I'm happy he gets another opportunity to show his skills on the big stage.

He is developing GP16, to do a wildcard with GP15 doesnt make any sense.

2 positions on why he doesn't want to race.

1. When Dani went down, no one really expected him to race, nor was his testing advice being listened to very respectfully (due to external forces). He wanted to race in Texas to show Honda that he still had REAL value, that his input is very relevant when it comes to making a motorcycle faster. Which brings me to my second point.

2. Stoner is out to prove that he is the best development rider, period. He already knows he is the fastest, the Sepang tests proved it, and every journalist has been arguing with fan-boys about whether Stoner makes the Ducati fast or if it is actually a race winning bike. If you think there is no hunger here people, you are dead wrong. Casey is in full on work mode behind the scenes and taking it very very serious and personal. Let's not forget the last major personality to get on that bike and off it completely by choice.

My intuition: Stoner will give the factory guys the majority of the season to have a crack at the first Ducati win. If they haven't won by Phillip Island, you can pencil him in with red ink and triple circle it. Ducati might be restless by the time Misano rolls around for round 13 for him to wild card if they still haven't gotten that top step.

If you have a, whatever attitude about racing, what kind of results do you expect? Look at the factory Ducati's. While not smart it was committed racing. If you're not willing to push at this level you're at the back of the pack so why do it?

Pirro is the obvious substitute to cover any rider shortfall within Pramac GP15 or factory GP16.
The situation could change should a GP15 rider be sidelined along with a factory rider for the same or same few events.
That could bring Pirro AND Stoner into the picture as substititutes.
However, even in that situation, it is more likely that they would offer a wild card to Chaz Davies or Davide Guigliano if there is no clash of SBK and GP events.
The key statement from Ducati is that Stoner can if he wants to and the key statement from Stoner is that he does not want to.
From another angle, the manufacturer's title is of more importance to the manufacturer than the rider title is to the manufacturer.
Should this season prove to be a dramatically close battle for the manufacturer's title and any particular rider within Ducati impacting on that outcome get sidelined, you may find Ducati asking Stoner to substitute and Stoner deciding to do a race.
At any rate, I think Stoner is very happy with his role at present and revelling in it.
The more track and test time he gets with the GP16 and the more race fit he gets, the more likely he will be to accede to a Ducati request to stand in at any stage.
And, I re-iterate, given his role at Ducati, it will most likely come as a result of a very tight manufacturer's title call, should either Andrea need to be subbed at any event close to the death of the season.
Pirro, in the interim is perfectly capable. Give him credit for developmental feedback as a test rider and more than capable racer. Yamaha have a good man doing a similar job and he even finished second in a race some time back.

David, do you know if Casey was quick on the GP16 at the Qatar test? Did they not release a lap time because he was off the pace or because he was on it and they didnt want to put any more pressure on the factory boys after a good race at Qatar?

Cheers for all your info as always.