Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) won that incredible three-way battle royal for Brno, but it was far from easy. In the aftermath the three main protagonists – Dovi, teammate Jorge Lorenzo and reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – debriefed the battle and how it played out.
“I’m so happy,” grins winner Dovizioso, as you’d expect – and the Italian said it’s acceleration that was key. “At this track we have an advantage in acceleration and that gave us the possibility to fight until the end with Marc, who had a better pace in practice. I had a good strategy because everyone is struggling with the rear tyre and I’m really happy with the way we’ve worked.”
That strategy was, however, largely shared by the men he battled. And that battle was far from easy to win: “It was really difficult. When you see on the pitboard ‘Group of 3’ and ‘Jorge and Marc’, it’s not good! I’m happy with the way I managed that, also because we were fighting with the grip. So, it wasn’t just about speed, but speed and the sliding.”
Teammate Lorenzo was the biggest pressure in the end – and went for a change in riding style for much of the race, and a very different strategy to the normal ‘Lorenzo style’.
“I decided before the race to try a different strategy this time to save the tyres because, if not, I wouldn’t have finished the race,” says Lorenzo. “Especially on the front. I had a lot of graining on the right side of the tyre, so I needed to change my riding style completely, lean a bit less and to wait for my moment, from the middle of the race until the end – and it worked. I didn’t make a good start so I said ‘I’m 3rd or 4th, so it makes sense to wait a little bit and see what happens.’ So, I saved energy, I saved tyres and finally it paid off because I was really competitive at the end of the race, especially on braking.”
As the laps ticked down and the three men bolted, Lorenzo found he was – contrary to his teammate – losing out in acceleration. But he was gaining elsewhere, just maybe a little too late…
“Marc and Andrea on the last laps started to brake earlier and earlier, so I recovered a lot in braking but on acceleration I used just a little bit, so I arrived too late for them. It was a great battle but I think I just needed one more lap. When I overtook Marc, I just needed one more lap to catch Andrea for the last overtake for the win…I think, in terms of speed, especially at the end of the race, I was probably a tenth faster but it wasn’t enough because I was fifth or fourth, third then in the last two laps I was second, so I just needed one more lap!”
For Marquez, meanwhile, it was more a duel in the end. Caught up fighting Lorenzo and not able to get past him to attack for the win, the reigning Champion tried – and does get a bigger points lead as consolation.
“The race in the beginning was slow, and everybody was trying to save tyres,” affirms Marquez. “The track grip was not perfect at the beginning but, step by step, I got better and better and I got the confidence. I was following Dovi with good pace, I was comfortable. But when Jorge arrived, we started to fight and in that fight it was quite difficult for me for this reason: Ducati riders have very strong acceleration.
“I was ready to fight but, honestly, fighting against Ducati is so difficult. They have incredible acceleration, incredible braking stability, so it’s so difficult to overtake them. In end, we finished 3rd. We finished really close. We tried. But I’m really happy because we did a great job. We increased the lead in the championship.”
Incredibly he did – now 49 points clear of Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). But next up the Red Bull Ring awaits and it could be a very similar and similarly spectacular story. So far, it’s been Ducati turf. Will we get another fight to the flag?