Andrea Dovizioso has convinced the last person he needed to that he is a genuine MotoGP title contender in 2017 – himself.
His fourth win of the year – taken with some masterful tyre strategy and Marc Marquez’ first-ever engine failure in his premier class career – saw the works Ducati rider go back to the head of the championship table.
“It’s surreal. But this success doesn’t arrive by chance. These successes are the result of our hard work done throughout the last years. We are finally collecting the fruits,” Dovizioso told bikesportnews.com on Sunday at Silverstone.
Dovizioso is not fazed by any of the riders around him. He passed team-mate and multiple champion Jorge Lorenzo on the second lap at Silverstone, overtook Cal Crutchlow on the third lap and then caught Marc Marquez. Dovizioso defired his first salvo at the reigning champion on lap six and the final one on the 11th lap. The head-to-head with Maverick Vinales was breath-taking: they passed each other four times on lap 11 with the coup de grace on lap 12. Dovizioso then studied Valentino Rossi for a while before passing the nine-time champion on lap 18.
Each of the four victories has been very different. “Winning at Mugello was a dream, Barcelona was pure strategy, Austria the circuit and Silverstone being at the right place at the right moment.”
Dovizioso has always been a precise, analytical rider and has adapted to the nervous Desmosedici, learned to use the rear brake and how to take advantage of the power, while minimising its weak points. A recipe, finally, for success.
“The race confirmed that you cannot tackle it like practice—when you give everything”, explained Dovizioso. “Tyre management is crucial to be consistent over race distance. In the warm-up, I was losing half a second in sector four and I couldn’t understand the reasons. In the race, I rode behind Marquez and Vinales, and I understood how I could improve in some corners in that section of track.
“Saving the tyres allowed me to have more rear grip in the final part of the race. When Marquez passed me, I thought he wanted to catch Rossi and try to build a gap. So I respond to his attack straight away. I wanted to pass also Maverick to try and impose my rhythm and save the tyres.
“This made the difference: we were both riding very fast but still controlling Rossi, who was obliged to lap faster, stressing more the tyres. When I passed Valentino and took the lead I tried to build a small gap and close the doors to the rivals. We were still a bit slower in the corners, but we had other strong points, and in the last laps I had more grip than Valentino. I was not the fastest, but I was able to be in the right position and win.”
And still he had something left for Vinales on the last lap. “He brake hard at turn 16 so I arrived a bit wide. But I succeed to close the corner and the door so he couldn’t try again in the following braking.”
Winning at Silverstone has a special taste: “This victory is so important for the championship. Our focus doesn’t change: we approach a race at the time, but heading to Misano - mine and Ducati’s home GP - leading the world standing is surreal. The Italian track doesn’t suit us so well, we have always struggled there but we did a good test after the Austrian GP and he will do our best to maintain this momentum”.
“Winning at Silverstone cleared all the hesitations: we are 100 per cent in the fight for the 2017 title. The Dovizioso-Ducati package is working well and is a serious title contender. Now we can be dangerous.”
The rivals have been given notice…