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In the end, it wasn’t to be for Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan after a crash at Turn 10 with two laps to go handed Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) his seventh World Championship crown.
Nevertheless, the Italian was upbeat about where he and his Ducati team are currently at in terms of performance and admits the crash wasn’t because he was pushing over the limit when behind Marquez: “The positive thing is I wasn’t over the limit when I crashed, I just made a small mistake because I wanted to make to prepare the exit in a better way than the lap before,” explained the number 04 rider. He continues:
Motul Grand Prix of Japan: MotoGP™ Full Race
“I was accelerating really good but I couldn’t exit close to Marc and try to overtake him in the braking area. I did a lap and a half like this and I wanted to do this immediately and I did a small mistake, I had a lot of angle when I prepared the corner and it was too early, I asked too much of the front tyre. That was the bad thing of today.”
Despite starting from P6, pole man Dovi knew that it wouldn’t take Marquez long to make his way up to the forefront - and that’s exactly what happened: “The race was like we expected, because in the practice I saw really good pace from Marc, like I tried to explain in every interview. But today I think he did something special to stay with me until the last seven laps. So we can just congratulate him, the team because they did another special year, they won and this is normal because they did something better than everybody, more than 100 points than anybody, I think we are strong like him but in the end, he won the title.”
However, ‘DesmoDovi’ again saw the positives from the race and despite admitting Ducati need to find something a little extra, the fact he’s been able to match Marc in the second half of the season can only be a good thing heading into 2019.
“There are a lot of positive things, like here, because we were the only one to fight with him. But also today it shows that it isn’t enough what we have and we have to try and find something more. I think he improved during the season, like we did, and we arrive at the middle of the season to the end with a really similar pace. This is really positive to be strong like Marc and this is positive for next year but today we couldn’t finish in the way we want.”
The 32-year-old continues, reiterating he and Ducati are in great shape heading into next season where - he hopes - a stronger title challenge can be mounted: “I’m so happy about the level we are at now,” affirmed Dovizioso. “To finish the season like this… more ready than this year (for next year). We did really good work during the season, we didn’t find something special but with hard work, we found small things in every area and we became really competitive.”
FREE: Dovizioso falls! Marquez is Champion!
Now though, Dovi now has to keep an eye on the gap to the rider third in the Championship: Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). There are only nine points separating the two Italian’s heading into the final three races of the season and next up is a track Ducati have struggled at in recent visits.
“But now I have to look at second position because Valentino is always there. He’s not so strong this year but at the end, he always make the points, he’s the fastest Yamaha rider and we have to be careful about him.
“On one side I’m happy to be going there (Phillip Island) because it’s something we have to improve if we want to think about the Championship. It’s good to have this race now and I expect the Yamaha to be really strong. So, for sure it will not be easy.”
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