Ahead of his sixth season with Ducati, Danilo Petrucci has put pen to paper with KTM for 2021 as the Italian prepares to step into the Red Bull KTM Tech3 ranks next season.

The 2019 Mugello race winner visited Austria to chat with KTM hierarchy recently as Petrucci went in search of a new seat in the premier class, and it seems the talks couldn’t have gone better for both parties. Tech3 Team Manager Herve Poncharal has called Petrucci a “team player and a MotoGP winner” – something the Frenchman obviously holds in high regard as he gets ready to take Petrucci under his wing.

It may come as a surprise that KTM have placed Petrucci into the Tech3 squad. But don’t let that fool anyone. All four RC-16s will be identical at the start of the 2021 campaign – just like they are for 2020 – so, in essence, Petrucci has a factory bike underneath him. Handing Miguel Oliveira the official factory seat for 2021 is just reward for the Portuguese star’s efforts in his rookie season, but Petrucci isn’t getting a rough end of the deal – far from it.

The experience of Petrucci and youth of Iker Lecuona is the perfect potion for Tech3 in 2021 and with a year under his belt, the latter is going to push Petrucci all the way. KTM have said Petrucci will be like a “riding captain” in 2021, the Italian having much more experience over the three younger pretenders – a role that the number 9 should thrive in.

KTM Motorsport Director explains the 2021 line-up

“We’re going to bring a new guy on board, and I’m very, very happy to say that Danilo Petrucci coming on our side and he will be the fourth rider in our squad of four factory riders,” said KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer. “There is this one part with our young riders where we have a lot of trust and belief into the future but there is also, of course, that MotoGP experience is worth a lot.

“To get a rider, a MotoGP winner, number 6 in the championship onboard is definitely something great for the project because he will bring experience, stability and be the so-called Riding Captain of the four factory riders because I also want to underline we are not talking about one team or the other team, the A, B or B, A team, junior team… No, we’re going to have a line-up with four factory riders. So I’m really happy we have this line-up.”

For now, Petrucci’s attention will turn back to completing his Ducati career with roaring success in 2020, before an incredibly exciting switch to KTM beckons.