Petrucci wins in MotoAmerica debut

Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC’s Danilo Petrucci made an opening-day statement in the first round of the Auto Parts 4 Less MotoAmerica Championship with a maiden MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike victory in his series debut at the Circuit of The Americas.

The win was Petrucci’s first in the series as he matched Spaniard Toni Elias in becoming a MotoAmerica Superbike winner in his MotoAmerica debut. Like Elias, Petrucci's first win came in front of the MotoGP paddock where he has spent the majority of his career as MotoAmerica is sharing the weekend in Texas with the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.

(From left) Mathew Scholtz, Danilo Petrucci and Cameron Petersen celebrate on the COTA podium. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

The victory also marked the first MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike win for Ducati since Petrucci’s fellow Italian Lorenzo Zanetti won race two at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October of 2020 for the Warhorse HSBK Ducati NYC team.

Still not physically fit with a laundry list of injuries from both the Dakar Rally and post-rally, Petrucci ended the first lap in fourth place, moved to second on the second lap and led the fourth lap after taking over from the fast-starting Mathew Scholtz on the Westby Racing Yamaha YZF-R1.

From there, Petrucci maintained a lead that for much of the race was under a second as Scholtz refused to throw in the towel. At the finish line Petrucci’s margin of victory was 1.7 seconds over the South African.

Fresh N Lean Progressive Yamaha Racing’s Cameron Petersen was third, the South African racing without his teammate Jake Gagne as the defending MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Champion pulled on to pitlane on the warm-up lap after his Yamaha refused to run.

PJ Jacobsen made an impressive return to MotoAmerica racing with the New Yorker giving his new team Tytlers Cycle Racing a fourth-place finish in its MotoAmerica debut. Jacobsen topped his equally impressive teammate Hector Barbera by .693 of a second.

Sixth place went to Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis with the 2021 MotoAmerica Stock 1000 Champion three seconds behind Barbera and some 10 seconds clear of his teammate Richie Escalante, who was making his MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike debut.

ADR Motorsports’ David Anthony just a tick of a second ahead of Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC Racing’s Travis Wyman. Wyman’s teammate Corey Alexander rounded out the top 10 finishers.

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Petrucci became the 63rd rider in history to win an AMA Superbike race. He is also the third Italian to win, joining Alessandro Gramigni and Zanetti. All three Italians won their races on Ducatis.

Danilo Petrucci – Winner

“For me, really the target was to be on the podium because these guys and also Jake (Gagne) are really, really fast. Especially since not generally 2022, but since generally 2021 that I’m racing. I did a MotoGP season then I went testing to Dakar. I broke my ankle. I went to Dakar. I did the Dakar, and I broke again the ankle, the collarbone, and the radius. I come back home, and I was really, really tired. I haven’t had the chance to have really a training. When I was better one month ago, I took my motocross bike and I crashed again, and I broke my ligament. I almost forgot how I can run. I feel like I got the legs of another man. But I am happy. I’m not physically fit, but I tried to stay there. I tried to push. In the first part of the track, I was really, really struggling. Then I tried to manage it. I was not thinking to push too much, but when I tried to really push my rear tire was really, really unstable. I tried to manage until the end because we have just a pair of days of testing in Europe, so for me the bike is completely new. It doesn’t fit so much with the Dunlop tires that are really, really good but they need a proper setup. For sure, I’m really, really happy to be here racing with these guys. The atmosphere is really, really nice. It’s true that coming to MotoAmerica is one of the best choices I have ever made.”

Mathew Scholtz – Second

“There were a couple parts of the track where he was quicker. There were a couple parts where I was quicker. So, it was just always going backwards and forwards. That’s really mentally draining. I think it was maybe six laps to go, I hit a false neutral going into corner 16 and lost it all. I tried to come back after that. I think I closed in slightly. It’s obviously the first race of 2022. So, I kind of know where I was losing time. There were a couple corners going onto the back straight and onto the front straight here I was spinning way too much and losing a ton of time. Through the infield section, I felt good. Just need to work on one or two things and I think we’ll be able to maybe hold a couple 8’s and low 9’s for the second race tomorrow. Just a big thank you to the Westby Racing team. They’ve worked hard during the off-season and given me a bunch of new and better parts. We changed the whole bike with how the traction control works. First race, it kind of sucks that I was that close to the front, but just going to be happy with taking a second and continue building from here.”

Cameron Petersen – Third

“Honestly, I’m not too happy. I should have been way closer to these guys. Just a couple mistakes in the race. Hitting a false neutral going into one, I think six laps into the race, kind of hurt me and I lost that tow to these guys. Honestly, once the tires ran out, I just really, really struggled to get the bike to turn. I’m pretty sure we all went through the same thing. Stoked to get the season started off with a podium. I always wanted to get on the podium here at COTA, so I can check that one off. Getting a race under our belt, I know what we need to work on tomorrow. Hopefully, we can close the gap to these guys and actually challenge for a win. I feel like that’s where we need to be. Can’t be back off behind these guys settling for third. Just go do our homework tonight and get to work and be ready for tomorrow and hopefully challenge these guys.”

Superbike Race One

1. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)

2. Mathew Scholtz (Yamaha)

3. Cameron Petersen (Yamaha)

4. PJ Jacobsen (BMW)

5. Hector Barbera (BMW)

6. Jake Lewis (Suzuki)

7. Richie Escalante (Suzuki)

8. David Anthony (Suzuki)

9. Travis Wyman (BMW)

10. Corey Alexander (BMW)