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Standing second in the table, three points behind Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) following victory at the Austrian GP and finishing inside the points in every race so far this season, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) is once again in the hunt for MotoGP™ glory this year.
The Italian brings a 7-year-association with Ducati to an end this year, and he is desperate to finally make the vacated throne his own. As is everybody within the factory.
It’s been 13 years since Aussie Casey Stoner was crowned Champion while riding on a Ducati, their sole premier class victor. Since then, Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) dominance has seen him take glory six times in the premier class, while the likes of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have Yamahas on their way to being Grand Prix Champions.
However, in the absence of the injured Marquez, Ducati have been plotting their route back to the top of the charts this season, with both Dovi and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) leading their charge on the track, with the support of an impressive team behind them.
Dovizioso opens up on the reasons behind his Ducati exit
Artur Vilalta, communications manager at the Ducati Team, joined the Spanish MotoGP™ Podcast ¡Cambia la Mapa! this week, and he talked us through the Italian constructor's hopes and ambitions for the rest of the season, as well as if the World Championship is on Dovi’s mind.
“We will ask him ...” Vilalta jokingly said. “I see 'Dovi' trained and confident that he can do it, but that does not mean that, as he always says, he needs to feel the same confidence he had in Austria with the bike on all circuits, especially in the first race on the Red Bull Ring.”
“He knows that to win this World Cup, even if it is an atypical World Cup, he needs to be competitive on all circuits. That means practically not going down from fifth place in every race. This would be the objective that he has on the table right now.”
“Taking over a bit of what I sense from all the statements that 'Dovi' makes and it is not from now, since the World Cup begins, he considers that his objective is to win the title. At least since 2017, when I have been part of the team, I have always seen a very confident 'Dovi'. Obviously, in 2017, after winning in Qatar and confirming a spectacular start to the year, there he really began to believe it and since then he has not left that belief, that faith.”
“Every year, as he says, is a story. This year, with the issue of Márquez's absence, it is true that it can be seen in two ways: that everyone is capable of winning not only races but the World Cup or that nobody wants this World Cup.”
It isn’t the first time Ducati and Dovizioso have found themselves right in the thick of the Championship action heading into the business end of the season. In 2017, it went down to the final race in the Grand Prix of Valencia.
A victory for Dovi would have put real pressure on Marquez to perform strongly, but he crashed out after six laps and handed the title to the Spaniard, and had to settle for a second-place finish overall.
Unseen: Dovizioso and Ducati's perfect storm
Second overall isn’t a bad result, but was it enough for a factory of Ducati’s reputation?
“In 2017, not winning the World Cup when 'Dovi' fought it until the final race in Valencia, was it a failure? And then in 2018 ... I don't particularly like putting labels on it, but obviously (it was), and Ducati doesn't hide this, Ducati's goal every year is to try and win the World Championship.
“Then, depending on how the year is developing, according to your competitive level, at the end of the season you make the assessment and say 'we have done our homework', 'we must improve', 'it is insufficient' ... either with the drivers or with the team itself because, in the end, there is a lot of talk about the riders, but I think that here this is part of a pack: rider, team, motorcycle, etc.
“I insist, I do not like to put labels, but it is evident that when you are after 5 races 3 points behind the World Championship leader and the third driver is also a Ducati driver, you have no other objective than to win the title.”
So having been Marquez’s biggest challenger in recent years, surely he must be considered the favourite and any other result would come as a surprise?
“More than surprise, I think the surprise would be that 'Dovi' was not fighting until the end for the World Cup. That would be a surprise to me. But losing the title when sometimes everything depends on so many details.
MotoGP™ race recap: Dovizioso defends Ducati's territory
“Each World Cup is a story. Not only every race but every World Championship, because motorcycles change, because asphalt changes, because, for example, and 'Dovi' is suffering and has said it repeatedly, the tires wear out a lot.
“After the two Jerez races, no one doubted that Fabio Quartararo was practically the great candidate for the title. After Brno and the two races in Austria that is no longer claimed by everyone. I think that until the last 3 races it is difficult to think about this type of assessment.”
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