Dovizioso is to stay with Ducati. This unsurprising announcement started the weekend at Le Mans, bringing to an end faint rumours that last year’s title runner-up was flirting with Repsol Honda and Suzuki, and extending their partnership until the end of 2020.
With a five-year tenure so far, Dovi is already the longest-serving Ducati MotoGP rider, and after 23-race winner Casey Stoner, the Bologna marque’s most successful, with eight wins, six of them last year.
He joined the factory in 2013, taking the place of Valentino Rossi, whose two years with the Italian team had been disastrous for all.
“I think I and the team were in the same situation in 2013.” He said.
“Nobody believed that I could win the World Championship, and after Valentino nobody believed in Ducati. We started from the bottom together.
“I know a lot about Ducati, and they know a lot about me.”
Negotiations were described as “difficult” by team boss Paolo Ciabatti; but only, according to the rider, “because it is difficult to make a big contract; we spoke about important things.”
His negotiations with other factories had been real, the rider said, because “every rider needs to be really egotistical to be fast – it’s normal; so I was open to other teams. It’s normal to have an open mind.
The signing leaves second Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo even more exposed, as the multi-champion struggles to come to terms with the Desmosedici.
But to Lorenzo it changes nothing.
“It was expected – no surprise,” he said. “I am happy for Andrea and Ducati. It was the most logical thing, because he is very competitive on the bike. But it doesn’t affect my position.”
He had a new chassis at Le Mans, which he said improved the entry to and the middle of the corner, and handled the bumps better; but he had only one here, which made the situation difficult, because it wasn’t possible to transfer ideas from one bike to the other.
“I will have two at Mugello,” he said.
By Michael Scott