Down to the wire
IT WAS THE LAST LAP OF THE RACE. Andrea Dovizioso was in lead on his Ducati, but Marc Marquez wasn’t giving him an easy time. He’d been on his Dovi’s tail for the last seven laps and hadn’t eased off. A couple of milliseconds off the leader on the last lap, Marquez could smell blood. This made him dangerous – he was going to attempt to go for the kill, and Dovizioso knew it.
Dovizioso managed to keep Marquez out of attacking range for most of the lap. However, Marquez made up crucial milliseconds over the last few corners and was in with a chance approaching Turn 9 – the penultimate corner of the lap. Marquez made a dive for the outside line, however Dovizioso anticipated the move, exited cleanly and shut the door on him. That should’ve been it. The final corner of the lap wasn’t a particularly easy place to overtake, however Marquez wasn’t done yet.
The last turn was another right hander, leading on to the start-finish straight. Dovi had expected Marc to make the move – he had heard Marc get on the throttle earlier that he did at Turn 9’s exit. He intentionally kept his line clean on the final corner, leaving the door open for Marc as he hoped to get better speed out of the corner. The plan worked. Marc dived in to Turn 10 on the inside and slipped past Dovi… but exited wide, bike sliding around trying to hold a tight line. Dovizioso exited the corner faster, blasted past the sliding Honda and made it to the chequered flag before the Honda did.
In a post-race interview, Marquez revealed that he had forgotten about the championship when he made that moved – he just wanted the win. He said that he gave it his all, and wouldn’t have been able to sleep that night had he not attempted to win. Going in to this race, Marc lead the championship by 14 points from Maverick Vinales, and is now leading from Dovizioso who climbed in to second by 16 points. For the first time ever, Honda and Ducati are the two teams battling it out for the MotoGP crown – the best years of both factories have never coincided, until now.