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At this point last year, few would've believed that Ducati would find themselves in a MotoGP™ title fight, and fewer still would gamble on it having been Andrea Dovizioso. Going into 2017, the Italian manufacturer had made big steps forward in terms of development and what's more, they had signed Jorge Lorenzo from Yamaha - an acquisition that they believed could be the key to future success.
On the other side of the garage sat Andrea Dovizioso; the cool, calm and consistent Italian who was embarking on his fifth season in red, aiming to improve on a personal best finish of fifth overall since moving to the team in the winter of 2012. And the season had started in Qatar as it usually does for Dovi, few mistakes during races on his missile of a machine had seen him take second place in the previous two seasons in Losail, and 2017 was to be no different.
The next few rounds were a struggle, however, as he failed to finish in Argentina and was unable to pick up silverware at Austin, Jerez and Le Mans, leaving him in sixth overall. That was, until everything changed.
In Mugello, Dovizioso and his Ducati made for a lethal and ultimately unbeatable combination. He had waited a long time to taste the winning bubbles in Sepang, since Donington Park in 2009, but something had changed here. He was risking more than usual, he had the hunger to win and the talent to do so.The Italian crowd erupted.
For a long time, many had wondered about the meaning behind the white and black horses he has painted on his helmet, which he later revealed to be the 'rational' and 'irrational' side to his racing. Both are used during a weekend, but it was about finding the balance between the two.
Dovizioso's mentality: the white and black horses
From Mugello onwards, and for the first time in a long time, Dovizioso had a different mentality, the white horse was left in the stable and it was time to take the black horse out for a spin, the results were not disappointing. Five more wins were to come, including two incredible battles with World Champion Marc Marquez, where twice Dovi showed immense skill and courage to put it all on the line in order to win out of the final corners of both Austria and Japan.
After his last win of the season in Malaysia, the Championship went to the final round in Valencia. The points gap to leader Marquez was in truth a bridge too far and he sadly fell, ending what seemed to be the unlikely dream.
But was that his one and only chance gone in the gravel trap? Absolutely not.
Dovi: “We’re a title contender from the beginning”
Last year, Andrea Dovizioso not only showed that the Ducati is capable of winning a title again, but he proved to himself that he really is one of the best in the business. The Ducati gets stronger and Dovizioso has had his taste of meat, and wants more. For the first time in his career, the Italian enters a premier class season believing he can become the Champion. And so does everyone else.
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