Tech3 KTM rider Danilo Petrucci has revealed that his 2021 MotoGP pre-season build-up has been disrupted by an undiagnosed injury sustained last July.
He has faced a month without any training as he recovered from a herniated neck.
The Italian crashed heavily during an official test at Jerez just before the delayed 2020 season got underway, when he hit oil laid down by the exploding Aprilia engine of Aleix Espargaro at the fast Turn 11.
Then a Ducati rider, Petrucci initially shrugged off the injury despite neck pain and was able to race only a few days later in the season-opener.
However, speaking ahead of the start of this year’s championship next month, he has admitted that the injuries were more severe than even he first realised – and that it has severely impacted his preparations.
“I had a very big problem with my neck at the end of the year last year, after the crash at the Jerez test,” the Italian admitted.
“We discovered that I had two hernias on my neck, and at the end of the season I started to feel less sensitivity in my hands.
“We decided to recover and to fix the problem, so for me I had no motocross bikes and no training for a month.
“I’ve started again, and there are indications on the way that we have to follow with [KTM sponsor] Red Bull.”
The significant break in his training routine could affect Petrucci’s KTM switch in the opening races of the year at Qatar’s Losail circuit, if he has been unable to properly manage his situation.
One of the naturally heavier riders on the grid thanks to his height, the 30-year-old has always trained heavily over winter to ensure that he starts the season as light and strong as possible, and could well be at a physical disadvantage now thanks to losing a month of preparation.