On the 14 August 2016, Andrea Iannone cemented his name into MotoGP history forever.
Ducati were on a losing streak, they had not won a MotoGP race since Casey Stoner did so in Philip Island 2010, they had Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone at their disposal, Iannone coming through the Ducati ranks from the Pramac team to the factory team next to experienced MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso who had a race win to his name, Donington Park 2009 on the Repsol Honda, clearly Dovizioso knew how to win a premier class race.
Since they won their title in 2007 with Casey Stoner, Ducati were on a downward trend, their bike struggled in all areas, especially when turning and not even the dynamic duo of Valentino Rossi and Jerry Burgess could fix the bike with Ducati believing it was their way or the highway, this has been the downfall of Ducati for many years now, they are reluctant to change their ways, taking 18 months to give Jorge Lorenzo a bathmat stuck to his motorbike tank which won him three races in a row on the red machine.
Andrea Dovizioso was hired in 2013 replacing Rossi and was able to spend some years developing the bike, he was in his third year with Ducati in 2016 and had a relatively good understanding of the bike and how it works, moving Ducati from the dogs of the GP13 and GP14 to the all-new and improved GP15 with the help of genius Gigi Dall’Igna, the GP15 was a groundbreaking machine and truly the start of their uprise once again.
The all-new Ducati GP15 with its sleek design and under-seat exhaust.
The GP was truly groundbreaking, with both factory riders standing on the podium in its first race at Qatar with Valentino Rossi, an all Italian affair. Sadly the GP15 was unable to win a race, but its predecessor, the GP16, was able to end Ducati’s 6-year drought.
The Red Bull Ring was a new addition to the MotoGP calendar, a track with long straights and tight corners meaning you had to carry low speed through them and fire the bike out at the other side, this meant that bikes with high top speeds and superior acceleration were going to do well at this track, all eyes were on Ducati for this very reason.
Iannone instantly jelled with the track, finishing every practice session within the top 2 and even starting the race from pole position, his last pole position in the class. He was an instant force to be reckoned with at the track, he enjoyed how well the Ducati worked around there and it played into his strengths massively.
Iannone had a perfect race, it was a Ducati 1-2, starting from pole Iannone was able to put some tarmac between him and his competitors with Lorenzo behind the pair, the rider who would eventually replace Iannone at Ducati. Iannone was under pressure from Dovizioso for the entire race, desperate to win the race and not let Iannone take the glory, however, it was not enough and Dovizioso was unable to match the blistering pace of Iannone as he marched to his only MotoGP victory on Austrian soil.
The trio of podium finishers
This was Ducati’s first race win since 2010 with Casey Stoner, the last Ducati race winner and test rider was even there in the pit box to witness this achievement, celebrating with the Ducati crew as Iannone was able to take the huge weight from their shoulders which they had been carrying since 2010 with many failed riders and ex-world champions trying and failing to make the bike work for them.
It was not all doom and gloom for Andrea Dovizioso, the other Ducati rider able to take his first Ducati win at Sepang in the same season, Andrea Iannone, on the other hand, was sadly never able to repeat the feat, but did score various podiums for Suzuki in the following seasons before moving to Aprilia.
Many will say this is the highlight of the career of Andrea Iannone, a rider with spectacular race craft and a pure desire to win, however, it seems with the limelight of MotoGP and the ‘stardom’ being a professional athlete brings, Iannone was dragged into a different path which affected his race results and relationships with teams, the talent was there, but was the desire to win as much as it was? We cannot know for sure, only Iannone knows this.
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