Dovizioso gives his all in dra­matic last-gasp bid to steal ti­tle from un­der Spa­niard’s nose

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents - BSB RE­PORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­ @Mc­n­sport mo­tor­cy­cle­news

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

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