Does Andrea Dovizioso dare to dream?

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    It is a seemingly unfathomable thought that Andrea Dovizioso is a serious contender for 2017 MotoGP championship, and it isn’t all down to his own abilities.

    With six races remaining in the championship, the 31-year-old Italian can dare to dream of a maiden premier class title after emphatically winning British Grand Prix last weekend and taking his total tally of 2017 victories to four.

    The lead of the standings has also fallen into the Ducati rider’s grasp, as an engine failure for previous leader Marc Marquez allowed Dovizioso to take a nine-point lead.

    Dovizioso’s rise in 2017 is difficult to fathom purely because throughout his decade-long career in the premier class he has been one of the bridesmaids to ‘alien’ riders like Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Marquez.

    Despite being equipped with factory-spec machinery throughout his tenure in MotoGP, the Italian from Forli had achieved only two wins up until the 2017 season, with his first coming all the way back in 2009 before a drought that took him through to 2016.

    Having tripled his record of wins though this year, the time has come for Dovizioso to claim a maiden title in the premier class.

    The introduction of the Michelin tyre has assisted Dovizioso over the past two seasons. His finessed riding style has been well suited to the new rubber as compared to the previous Bridgestone compounds.

    Dovizioso’s composure on the Desmosedici GP17 is something that hasn’t been seen in a Ducati rider since the time of Stoner between 2007 and 2010, a world championship-yielding period.

    Handling has been an inherent issue for the Panigale, and with the ban this year on aerodynamic winglets, which Ducati used effectively in 2016, there was the thought that the Italian manufacturer would struggle.

    However, that has not been the case, and Dovizioso’s four victories have been achieved at circuits that were previously dominated by Honda and Yamaha.

    The win at his home grand prix at Mugello earlier in the season will go down as one of the famous victories in the category and of Dovi’s career – an Italian rider winning on an Italian bike at the Italian Grand Prix.

    Regardless of whether Ducati were favourites to win in Austria or not, Dovizioso’s last-lap triumph over a persistent Marquez is also a testament to the Italian’s grit and composure under pressure.

    It has been a season of inconsistency across the board, but Dovizioso has been by far the most consistent of the top five riders.

    The composure and maturity of Marquez when he won his third MotoGP title in 2016 is non-existent this year, with a return to his more sporadic style of racing, which has seen multiple DNFs maked against the Spaniard’s name among his three wins.

    Yamaha’s factory squad has struggled with managing their rear tyres, as seen at Silverstone when Rossi’s race diminished from a potential victory to finishing third. The nine-time world champion concedes also that without winning more races the possibility of winning the title is very bleak.

    Even young Maverick Viñales, who was a revelation at the start of the season for Yamaha, has had his championship aspirations succumb to the tyre problems being faced by the Japanese manufacturer.

    What Dovizioso must do to claim the title from here is merely continue winning races and maintaining his consistency. Of the remaining six events the Italian has experience winning only in Malaysia, though the next race at Misano will see the home crowd spur him on.

    If this were to eventuate and be the year of Andrea Dovizioso, then it will be a significant victory in the history of MotoGP. Not since Stoner has a rider won multiple races for Ducati in a season, let alone a championship, and Ducati’s only title is credited to the Australian.

    Where the mighty Rossi failed after mamking the shock decision to switch his M1 Yamaha for the Desmosedici in 2011 Dovizioso has played the game of patience. Since replacing his compatriot in 2013 he has bided his time and helped develop the bike to where it is today.

    It would be an injustice if Ducati’s next title came at the hands of Dovizioso’s new teammate in three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo. That is said with no vitriol towards the Spaniard, just the desire for a stalwart to deservedly engrave his name into the Tower of Champions.

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