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Dovi 3 – Marquez 0

Three out of three last lap wins for the Italian, against the rider who always, always gives it a shot

After their stunning duel in the desert, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) has made it a trio of victories against Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) on the last lap and at the last corner – with the Qatar GP another absolute stunner. And it’s been the same tactics every time, as the Italian leaves the room for the Spaniard to make the lunge, and then beats him to the line.

Highlights: Dovizioso wins duel to the line with Marquez

“I try,” smiles Marquez. “Someday, I’ll do it. But he beat me again!”

The rider from Cervera has said that Dovizioso is the rival he has most enjoyed racing against during his career so far, and the discussions the two have after their increasingly tight duels are, Marquez says, something that only adds to the mutual respect. The reigning Champion debriefed the latest with a smile once again.

Marquez: "it's like deja vu!"

“I’m very happy with how we finished the weekend in second place and with 20 points,” explains the reigning Champion. “It’s one of the most difficult circuits for me and for Honda and we were able to be there, and we were able to start the season as we finished – it’s like déjà vu! Like the last corner in the Red Bull Ring and Motegi, and again I tried, again I lost! But today Dovi deserved the victory because he was faster than us and this second is like a victory for us.

Dovi vs. Marquez: Relive the battle in Austria 2017

I needed to make the move to sleep tonight. I was able to brake late, but Dovi braked very, very late also and I tried to be close enough, to brake, to stop the bike, but I struggled and he stopped better than me. I tried to be tight but he was faster, and he overtook me before the finish line. Anyway, for the show it was a great race!”

Dovizioso: "Everybody was on the limit with tyres"

For the show it was, and winner Dovizioso says he’s not sure it’ll be a tactic that keep working…

“I have to change strategies,” grins the Italian, “because I think now he understands! I’m joking. I couldn’t do anything different and I’m happy to make the right maneuver, but it was even more difficult and I had to pass through the kerb on the inside.” And once again, the strongest point for the Italian machine came into play: “I used the power of the Ducati to keep the lead.”

Watch Dovi vs. Marquez in Japan 2017

The original idea, however, was to push and make a gap – something that didn’t quite go to plan.

“In the last four laps when I was at the front, I tried to create a gap but I couldn’t,” explains ‘DesmoDovi’, “because the tyre was finished. So, this confirms that everyone was on the limit – it was very soft, softer than last year so everybody had to do the same. But I’m really happy because it confirms the work we did last winter and the test we did here. We arrived here with a really good bike, better than last year, but in the next two rounds it will be difficult for our bike so let’s see, because we are faster and we have to improve to fight for the championship.”

The next two rounds were incident packed for ‘DesmoDovi’ this time last season, but this is 2018 and it’s now truly in gear, with the fuse lit and the action as explosive as ever.