Danilo Petrucci Almost Lost Dakar Stage Avoiding Camel

A COVID false positive, a faulty fuel pump and a camel all stood in the former MotoGP rider's path

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Photo: Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool

On Thursday, Danilo Petrucci became the first MotoGP race winner ever to win a stage of the Dakar Rally. Though, his path to a stage victory wasn’t smooth or easy. With only two months to train and prepare, Petrucci was in for a rough experience, even as someone with a decade of MotoGP experience. It didn’t seem certain that Petrucci would even compete in Saudi Arabia.

Days before this year’s Dakar began, Danilo Petrucci tested positive for coronavirus. He was allowed to be subjected to a blood test to rule out a possible false positive on the PCR test. The blood test came back negative for coronavirus. Petrucci had a respectable start to the Dakar for a rookie. The KTM rider finished the first stage 13th, coming in 33 minutes behind the leader.


Things got worse on the second stage when he was forced to stop due to a fuel pump issue. When he tried to contact his team to talk him through fixing the problem, he realized that he had lost his phone, wallet and passport. He was forced to use his bike’s emergency system to contact rally organizers, causing his retirement from the Dakar. Though, as per new regulations, Petrucci was allowed to re-enter the rally without a chance at the overall class victory.

Petrucci was able to find his form quickly. He crossed the finish line third on the fourth stage but missed out on the podium due to a ten-minute penalty for speeding. The fifth stage is where he would see his triumph. Petrucci was able to keep pace with the stage leader Toby Price. Though, he wasn’t able to catch him. The stage was shortened when the medical helicopter was deployed, and Petrucci finished just over four minutes behind Price.


Toby Price was then handed a six-minute speeding penalty, and Danilo Petrucci inherited the stage win. Petrucci almost didn’t make the finish after crashing avoiding a camel. Petrucci said on Instagram, “I was so, so lucky to not get injured really in the first crash. I wanted to kill that camel that I found after this corner. I wanted to kill him, but here they consider the camel more important than women.” Many people say that it’s better to be lucky than good. At the Dakar, you have to be both.