MOTOGP DOVI: ‘I JUST DIDN’T HAVE THE PACE’
Dovizioso gives his all in dramatic last-gasp bid to steal title from under Spaniard’s nose
Andrea Dovizioso said he isn’t disappointed to have lost out on the 2017 Motogp World Championship crown in the final round at Valencia as he started the season thinking he wouldn’t have a chance.
Since joining Ducati in 2013, the Italian’s best championship finish has been fifth (in both 2014 and 2016) and while the Bologna factory saw a significant improvement last year to win their first races since 2010, Dovizioso never believed it’d be enough to fight Honda and Yamaha for the crown.
However, after tripling his Motogp win tally by Round 12 at Silverstone, Dovizioso looked to have a decent shot at claiming his first premier class crown. Two further wins in Japan and Malaysia kept the fight alive until the final round.
But at Valencia he struggled for pace during the weekend at a track where Ducati have had just a solitary podium in the last six years. And with Marquez on fire, it appeared to be all but decided until the Spaniard pushed too hard and tucked the front at turn one only to somehow manage to save it and keep his title bid on track.
Having seen Marquez’s mistake, Dovi pushed hard to try to win the race, but with his ambition outweighing his achievable pace, he crashed just a lap later to hand the title to Marc regardless of what happened in the final few laps.
“We did not have the pace to run with the front guys, we weren’t far off but not close enough,” Dovizioso said. “My aim was to finish on the podium, but when I saw Marc make a mistake I thought ‘I don’t care about the podium now, I want to win!’
“By that time I really didn’t have the pace, but I tried everything and pushed very hard into turn eight as that was my best point on the track. The tyre had dropped so I couldn’t stop the bike as well as I could ear- lier. I was over the limit by a long way.”
While evidently gutted to have crashed out of the final race, Dovizioso was adamant he was looking at the positives – and so he should, having scored 90 more points than last year and winning six races, in both wet and dry conditions to push Marquez all the way in an epic season.
“Some people can see losing the championship in a bad way, but we have to forget that. For me it’s not like that. I won six races and had a really good year, especially compared to last year. We have to be happy with what we’ve done and next year we will try to improve further. After this year, I feel our minds will be even more open to winning the championship, as this year we didn’t really think we had a chance and we came close.”
The story of Ducati’s success was however marred by Jorge Lorenzo ignoring multiple messages from the factory to allow Dovizioso past when the duo sat fourth and fifth in the early stages of the race.
Ducati sent the same ‘Suggested Mapping 8’ message they’d sent to Lorenzo’s dashboard in Malaysia. This time they sent that message six times during the race, before opting to stick a more overt message on his pit board telling him to drop a position, but Lorenzo failed to act on either instruction.
However, Dovizioso said he was not at all annoyed by his team-mate’s disobedience as passing him wouldn’t have changed how things panned out.
“At the beginning I was faster in some parts of the track but at the last part of the track I was slower. Where I was quicker I thought I could overtake him but I couldn’t find a way. But after two laps he started to improve and we were both completely on it.
“We were pushing over the limit for the whole race and that’s why we both crashed – we just did not have the pace of the guys at the front. When I followed Jorge it helped me be smoother than I was for most of this weekend.”
‘When I saw Marc make a mistake I thought, now I want to win’ ANDREA DOVIZIOSO
Dovi reflects on what has been an epic year