DOVI’S ROCKET: NO CATCHING DUCATI
Italian gets crowd on their feet with historic home round win
The sell-out 98,000-strong crowd may have poured into the Mugello circuit hoping to see a Valentino Rossi win, but they got the next best thing with Andrea Dovizioso taking a stunning victory for Ducati at their home race at the Italian Grand Prix.
His win saw him become the first Italian premier class winner on an Italian machine at a home race in an incredible 43 years. The last man to do it was Franco Bonera for MV Agusta in the 1974 Grand Prix at Imola.
And while Dovi’s previous two Motogp wins have come in the wet, there’ll be no question marks about the stunning performance delivered by the Italian in Sunday’s race, as he first made his way through the field and then put on a display of dominance to romp home well clear of the chasing pack.
And to make a special day even better for him, it came in the face of severe adversity after a nasty bout of food poisoning meant he had to sit out warm-up, leaving him doubtful for the race itself.
“It was a very strange day for me – and I think the strangest part was the victory! The second strangest was waking up at 4am sick and the third was the big wobble I had on the start/ finish straight on the second lap that left me completely out of control!
“I didn’t have any energy and thankfully I didn’t have anything to try in warm-up. I was scared before the race, scared that I would lose energy, but in the end I was able to ride fast and in a smooth way. That meant I was able to stay behind Maverick and I could see where he was strong.”
And making the win even better was that it came as a complete surprise to him, with the 31-year-old admitting that even after last month’s strong test at the circuit, only 45 minutes from Ducati’s headquarters in Bologna, he didn’t expect to be fighting for the lead come the race.
“The test went quite well, but the same has been true for the last three years! We knew we could be close, and when you’re close anything can happen – but I didn’t expect to win! We showed good speed from the first practice, but it was free practice four before we realised we could fight for the victory.
“In the race I thought Valentino had something in his pocket and until the end of the race Maverick was very, very strong. When I saw him 1.2 seconds from me with two laps to go, I thought ‘I’m f****d.’ Danilo was close to me too and he’s very strong, so it was the last corner before I realised I was really going to do it.”
Yet despite the hugely emotional win at his home race, Dovizioso isn’t convinced that it means that he and his Ducati team have made a huge breakthrough on the machine, instead admitting that he expects to be much further down the field again this weekend at Barcelona.
“I’ve had a podium here in the past with Honda, but to be on top with Ducati is very different and something really special. When you don’t expect a result and it comes it’s even nicer.
“But while I would like to think that we’ve improved, I don’t think it’s the reality. We have to be positive, and this result will help with that, but we didn’t change anything special. I can’t say now because of this that we’ll fight for the championship. A lot of people call me negative, but I think I’m realistic. We can be fast in some races, but our base in all 18 races still isn’t good enough.”