Ital­ian gets crowd on their feet with his­toric home round win

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

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.”

No win for Valentino but the home crowd had plenty to cel­e­brate

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