It’s a battle we’ve seen numerous times in recent years: a factory Ducati vs Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez for victory. The same plot unfolded again at last weekend’s Aragon Grand Prix, with Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) managing to fend off the eight-time World Champion for his maiden victory.
In 2017, 2018 and 2019, we were treated to some sensational Marc Marquez vs Andrea Dovizioso duels. After finishing second behind Bagnaia at MotorLand, Marquez admitted fighting the Italian was exactly like scrapping his former sparring partner – but with a significant difference.
“Of course I tried to win, before trying, I knew it would be very difficult. You know the times in 2019 or 2018 when I tried against Dovizioso, I tried but I knew he would be there and he will defend very well because competing against Ducati riders is very difficult because they brake very late and accelerate. But plus, today Pecco was riding in a perfect way,” said Marquez, chatting post-race.
“I tried to analyse where he was fast and where there were weak points. But there were no weak points. At every track he’s fast. Many times I fought Dovizioso, Pecco was like Dovizioso but with more corner speed. I said ‘ok, where can I overtake’. I didn’t find a place to overtake, he was braking later than me, stopping the bike better and accelerating better.”
Marquez’ corner speed comment gave Pecco a small chuckle in the Press Conference. Lack of corner speed has been Ducati’s Achilles heel for years. Ducati guru Gigi Dall’Igna and his crew have been working tirelessly to try and improve that area on the Desmosedici, and it's harvesting rewards.
After topping the Friday Free Practice timesheets, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) said he’s never felt more comfortable around the last two corners in Aragon: “The bike, like I said to the boys in the debrief, in the last two corners with the double apex, you can pick up the gas and let’s say in the past we had to manage it quite a lot, whereas now we have a nice consistent gas all the way through and it will keep turning, and it’s not rolling off the edge of the tyre.”
Ducati’s GP21 is without doubt the most complete bike they’ve rolled out. Couple that with Pecco’s continual rise as being one of the consistently fast riders on the grid, with the addition of 2021 race winners Miller and Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), we can hopefully look forward to more Ducati vs Marquez fights in the coming years. And as we all love a bit of a trip down memory lane from time to time, we thought it might be nice to have a look at some of the memorable Dovizioso vs Marquez battles that will live long in the memory: