Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport -

An­drea Dovizioso has ad­mit­ted for the first time that he has to con­sider him­self a chal­lenger for the Mo­togp crown, after a da­m­age lim­i­ta­tion per­for­mance at a track that hasn’t suited the Du­cati in the past left him four points clear of Mav­er­ick Viñales.

De­spite tak­ing stun­ning back-to­back wins at home in Mugello and then again only seven days later in Spain, Dovi has up un­til now played down his chances of win­ning the cham­pi­onship, ar­gu­ing that the Du­cati is still far from a com­plete pack­age.

But, speak­ing after Sun­day’s fifth place left him the first Du­cati rider to lead the cham­pi­onship since Casey Stoner back in 2009, he con­ceded that he now has a bet­ter chance than be­fore, even if that won’t change how he ap­proaches the rest of the sea­son.

He said: “I al­ways race to think about the cham­pi­onship – even when I’m fight­ing for sixth place I don’t do crazy things dur­ing the races. The fast rid­ers in the cham­pi­onship al­ways race think­ing about it a lit­tle bit, so I don’t think I have to change that about my ap­proach. On Sun­day, it was tricky con­di­tions and there was no rea­son to crash, be­cause like last year it’s so im­por­tant not to make a zero.

“For sure though, we’ve con­firmed in the last two races be­fore Assen that we can fight, and that’s good for the mo­ti­va­tion and for the con­fi­dence in the next races and for the rest of the year.”

And the Ital­ian demon­strated both his con­fi­dence and his cau­tion in Assen, by first mak­ing a strong charge through the field un­til he found the limit of his con­fi­dence, and then set­tling for fifth and valu­able cham­pi­onship points.

“It was a re­ally nice race, even if it was re­ally strange, but mak­ing a mis­take in qual­i­fy­ing com­pli­cated things and meant I couldn’t go with the lead­ing group. I wasn’t smooth enough to be fast. But I learned what I needed to do and was able to change how I was rid­ing, and after I did I was the fastest per­son in the race.”

‘I al­ways think about the stand­ings – I don’t do crazy things’ AN­DREA DOVIZIOSO

Dovi had to set­tle for fifth but it’s still game on for the ti­tle

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