DESMO DOVI DOES IT AGAIN…

Fast Bikes - - PIT PASS - PICS: DU­CATI

Af­ter An­drea Dovizioso crossed the fin­ish line at Sil­ver­stone to take vic­tory, he became (at time of writ­ing) the only man to win four races in 2017, and the only man to dou­ble up on back-to-back vic­to­ries, too. First it was Mugello fol­lowed by Catalunya, now it’s Aus­tria fol­lowed by Great Bri­tain – and the lead in the 2017 Mo­toGP points ta­ble, to boot.

It’s been a re­mark­able turn­around for Dovi, given that it took him five years to win again (Sepang last year) from his first ever Mo­toGP vic­tory at Donington in 2011 on the Rep­sol Honda, both of which were races held un­der in­clement skies. And so on to 2017, his fifth year rid­ing the Du­cati and now not only are the wins flood­ing in, but he’s un­ex­pect­edly found him­self in a ti­tle fight.

Just how and why this turns of events has oc­curred, is down to a plethora of rea­sons, but one big one in par­tic­u­lar – the switch to Miche­lin tyres.

An­drea has al­ways been a de­cent, solid rider, but it’s taken him a long time to get to grips with the Du­cati, and he’s lucky in that he’s been given the time to adapt bit by bit, as the bike has un­der Gigi Dall’Igna’s rev­o­lu­tion within the Ital­ian camp. Many other rid­ers over the years haven’t been given the same time, or the bike has chewed them up and spat them out. But with Dovi’s bit-by-bit ap­proach he’s stayed the course.

His over­all re­sults thus far since he joined Du­cati for 2013’s sea­son have, on paper, been un­re­mark­able. From 2013 to 2016 he fin­ished 8th, 5th, 7th and 5th re­spec­tively, with 12 podi­ums and one vic­tory to show over the four sea­sons. That’s a de­cent re­turn for a ‘non-alien’ on an ‘un­favourable’ bike, sure, but in terms of the reg­u­lar front run­ners, not much to shout about.

The first year of Miche­lin’s re­turn cer­tainly shook things up, with mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent win­ners in­clud­ing Dovi, but this year the French firm seems to be bog­gling ev­ery­one on a race to race ba­sis – ex­cept Du­cati, and to a lesser de­gree, Marc Mar­quez. Mar­quez seems to make it work through his ridicu­lous tal­ent, but with Dovi and Du­cati it’s been a cul­mi­na­tion of brains and brawn, on both the rider and technical side of things, that have thus far seen them suc­ceed.

Yamaha can’t get their heads around the Miche­lins enough to mount a sus­tained chal­lenge: one race vic­tors, the next ut­ter pony. Honda like­wise (Mar­quez ex­cepted) have been strug­gling on a tyre that doesn’t suit the RCV’s tra­di­tional cor­ner-en­try strengths, which is why Pe­drosa is up there one week and nowhere the next, too. Du­cati and Dovi have been able to find a con­sis­tency the oth­ers lack, and a killer edge to­wards the end of races us­ing a softer tyre while the oth­ers all hedge their bets on the harder com­pound last­ing longer.

In truth, and in­clud­ing Mar­quez’s rare en­gine blow-up at Sil­ver­stone, it’s the in­con­sis­tency of his ri­vals and their teams that has given Dovi a bit of a leg up. Some­times that kind of thing helps win world ti­tles, but it’s not just Dovi that is show­ing good progress. Jorge Lorenzo may have been drafted in to be the num­ber one rider, but only the most in­sanely op­ti­mistic per­son would have fore­seen much suc­cess (if any) in his de­but sea­son. Yet Jorge is get­ting there lap by lap, he’s already led a few races, each time for more laps than be­fore, and the gap be­tween him and the win­ner has started to tum­ble to the point where he was just three sec­onds back from Dovi at Sil­ver­stone, and was the fastest man on track for many of the last few laps.

This is de­cent progress from the Spa­niard, and Du­cati are (wisely) not ap­ply­ing any pres­sure on him, rather work­ing away at it one piece at a time – much like Dovi has the last few years. Give Lorenzo as much time on the Du­cati as Dovi has had and of course suc­cess would fol­low. For now though, with all the at­ten­tion be­ing on An­drea, Jorge in­cre­men­tally gets bet­ter race by race – and there’s noth­ing quite like your team-mate do­ing a lot of win­ning, to mo­ti­vate you to do the same, is there?

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