Austria 2017, Japan 2017, Qatar 2018 and now Thailand 2018. The fourth royal rumble between Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was played out at the PTT Thailand Grand Prix, with the six-time World Champion coming out on top in this particular duel that went down to the final corner once more.
When asked in the post-race Press Conference whether they think their battles are reaching the ‘classic’ level, such as the legendary Wayne Rainey vs Kevin Schwantz races, both riders indicated that their polar opposite riding styles are what’s making their head-to-head clashes so good.
“We have a different riding style, a different bike, and then he (Dovizioso) has very strong points, I have other very strong points, so this creates that we’re able to ‘play’ in a good way when overtaking each other,” explained Repsol Honda’s Marquez. “Today we swapped styles, I was Dovi and he was Marc. He went in really fast, I go slightly wide, but he was very very close to achieving his goal that was kind of a block pass and I was very close, but I was able to stop in the last metres and yeah, it was the exact same movement like in Austria last year.”
Marquez’ erratic-esque riding style is highlighted further when he’s racing against the ultra-smooth Dovi. The Honda rider admits his target is to ride more like his Ducati counterpart, but it isn’t possible: “I don’t know… maybe Schwantz because maybe I’m braking more,” comments Marquez when asked if he and Dovizioso were Rainey or Schwantz. “He’s braking more under control and I’m braking more on the limit on that special brake point that everybody has in their mind so yeah. My target is to try and change my style, I try to be like Dovi style. Smooth, lean a little bit and accelerate but it’s not possible.”
‘DesmoDovi’ agrees with the Spaniard, but the Italian highlights a key fact: the Honda and Ducati have to be controlled in two completely different ways. “Yes, I agree with Marc. I think this also happens because our styles are completely different. The style is one thing, but the characteristics of the bike is another thing,” begins the number 04 rider.
“Both things create this big difference because I think his style is going in the same style as Honda, very agile and aggressive. But he is really good, he is the best to manage that. My style is a bit more relaxed, you have to ride our bike in that way. You can’t ride the Ducati like this (Marquez) like I don’t think I can ride the Honda in the same way. So, I think both make a big difference and the battle becomes good because his approach on the brakes and the line is the complete opposite to mine.”
Dovizioso, likewise to Marquez, admits that he is trying to adapt his style so he can be stronger where the latter has the upper hand: “We are trying to study and work, I’m trying to be better where’s he’s better and the opposite but still there is a big difference in style and the characteristic of the bike.”
And his response to being Rainey or Schwantz? “For sure Rainey, not Kevin.”
The paddock now leaves Thailand and heads to a familiar Marquez vs Dovizioso battleground: Motegi. Will the duo treat us to another last corner classic in Japan?