As the MotoGP world has now found out, Andrea Dovizioso has made the decision to leave the Factory Ducati squad at the end of the 2020 season.
This has set off a domino effect, as there are going to be Ducati riders shuffled between teams due to the contracts being with Ducati and not the teams, we will find out who will replace Dovizioso in red come Catalunya, with it either being Pecco Bagnaia or Johann Zarco.
Dovizioso’s time in MotoGP should not yet be coming to an end, but he has no options to ride in the class for 2021. There were rumours floating that he may sign for Petronas Yamaha for 2021, but they have been written off by the team principal Razlan Razali. This means that come 2021, we may line up without the rider who finished runner-up in the class 3 times in the last 3 seasons, and in an even crazier twist, could exit as World Champion with the 2020 season hitting new heights of drama.
Dovizioso’s relationship with Ducati was all but broken in 2018, after repeated requests from the rider to make a bike that turned better, and the efforts came to nought. Bike designer Gigi Dall’Igna and Dovizioso had zero relationship, not talking to each other at all with Gigi going as far as to question if his rider was mentally able to take on the dominant Marc Marquez, as seen in the Red Bull documentary ‘Undaunted’. Much of Ducati’s rise to the top as a race winning machine was due to the combined efforts of these two men, so to have them at odds was not good.
Dovizioso is known for being a considered and calm rider, who is inch perfect around a track and extremely difficult to pass, being a demon on the brakes and playing to the strengths of the Desmosedici which is a very stable machine under braking, though lacks the agility of other bikes. However, as many riders have found out, agility means nothing when the bike is not able to be passed under brakes and you cannot then ride through the machine mid corner, so you have to then set yourself up again to pass on the brakes. His feedback of what the machine is doing underneath him fits the nickname ‘The Professor’, giving you clear direction of which setup route to take at any given track.
His ability to develop a machine would certainly suit someone like Aprilia, who have been lost in the woods in recent seasons. Dovizioso has taken a bike that was languishing at the rear in 2013, and has had significant input into the bike’s fortunes being turned. With KTM proving they now have a race winning bike, only Aprilia will have concessions for 2021. The future of Andrea Iannone is uncertain, and Aprilia would welcome a rider of Dovizioso’s calibre into the team with open arms, using those concessions alongside his development skills to turn the RS-GP into a race winning machine. His methodical approach would be a very big plus to the team who have a reputation for being in disarray, although changes in management for 2020 seem to have settled this down.
In short, Dovizioso is too good a rider to not have a MotoGP seat, and if one becomes available to him, any team would have a proven winner. If his protracted sabbatical does in fact occur, 2022 could suddenly become very interesting if he was to return aboard a machine that can win.
Featured image- www.motogp.com