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