“Me and Rins were faster all around the track but the problem was that the other two were catching us on the straight. All through the race I was trying to make moves at the last corner, so I could see if I was able to reach the finish line in first position, but Marc and Dovi were too smart – they just closed the throttle because they didn’t want to be in front.
“When it came to four laps to go Dovi passed me but I passed him back immediately because I felt I was faster, especially out of Arrabiatta 2, so I was able to pass him into the next corner. With three laps to go he passed me on the straight again, but I was good on the brakes into Turn 1 and stayed in front.
“I remember very well the feeling I got approaching the last lap: OK, this is one of the most important laps of your life, so just ride, just ride. Then when I crossed the finish line to start the last lap Dovi and Marc passed me – zoom! – and I said, OK, I still have a chance to win because I was really a lot faster out of Arrabiatta 2, but I knew it would be difficult, or maybe even I could win from third if they made a mess in front of me.
“While I was thinking this I braked for Turn 1. They braked very late, so I just stayed tight to the kerb and I was able to get past both of them. After that I just rode as fast as possible and when I crossed the finish line I started to scream, really scream!
“And from that moment I’ve got very few memories. I had already been on the podium at Mugello, when I was third in 2017. Just seeing all the people down there was incredible.
“When I won I realised I couldn’t see the end of the crowd. I don’t know how many thousands of them were there, but I said, f**k, I won at Mugello! I was just in another world.
“We tried to get into McDonalds but there were so many people wanting to say ‘ciao’”
“When I stepped off the podium I had one of the deepest and saddest feelings. I said, f**k now it will be a long time before I’m back on the podium again. For this reason my win at Le Mans in May 2020 was a big, big relief because one of my nightmares was that Mugello would be the one day in my life when I made the top step, so I wanted to prove, especially to myself, that I could do it again, that I wasn’t a one-day hero.
“I was scared about my celebrations at Mugello! But there were so many people that it wasn’t possible to do anything. After the race people were telling me: we have to go there, we have to go here, we have to go there…
“The only feeling I had was wanting to close myself into a dark room and stay silent for a while, with no light, no sound, no nothing, but that wasn’t possible.
“On the drive home I remember stopping at a gas station on the highway. We tried to get into McDonalds but there were so many people wanting to say ‘ciao’ that it was impossible for me to go in, so they brought me a bag with a McDonalds inside and we went home.
“It was a little bit the same after I won at Le Mans the next year. After the race we drove to my home in Terni [Italy]. Where we came off the highway into the city there’s a steel factory and I said, f**k, the workers are on strike – they are protesting even on a Sunday night – they were waving flags and everything. Then we got closer and I saw them holding Petrucci flags!
“It was 11 o’clock at night, or something like that. I had the feeling that I wanted to stop for a while to see what was going on and to understand what was going on, but I just wanted to get home and have dinner with my mum and dad.
“That day at Mugello was really a strange day, because everyone in our garage expected Dovi to win, including him. So for some people it was like a disaster for the championship – we won but we won with the wrong rider! I got this feeling seeing Dovi’s face and all of his mechanics. The team was happy, but it was like, f**k we made a disaster.