Unpicking the Andrea Dovizioso enigma has remained an intriguing prospect throughout the Italian’s career from his quietly impressive early years in MotoGP’s premier class to emerging as Marc Marquez’s major world title rival.

With contrasting characteristics to the Spaniard, Dovizioso’s analytical approach is often credited as the key behind his success but also a drawback behind his ability to scale the tallest heights by becoming MotoGP world champion.

In the Red Bull and Dorna collaboration Dovizioso Undaunted, a kind of simulcast alongside Marquez Unlimited which also covers the 2019 season, the documentary follows the Ducati rider’s inner sanctum offering fly on the wall insight into how he operates both on and off track.

While Dovizioso’s film feels rawer than the Marquez version, which is perhaps natural given he fails on achieving his ultimate goal, it provides new light on the Italian and his Ducati squad.

Here’s a run through of the key moments from the documentary, while the full film can be found here.

Dovizioso’s doubts are from within and around him

Considering Dovizioso comes into 2019 as MotoGP world championship runner-up for the past two consecutive seasons and Ducati’s team leader, taking new team-mate Danilo Petrucci under his wing after the fallout during Jorge Lorenzo’s departure, the pressure on him to deliver is understandable.

What comes as a surprise is the overtly critical environment he operates at Ducati.

Arguably, Dovizioso’s biggest critic is himself but major figures in the garage are not afraid to dress down their main rider.

The theme becomes a core issue to the entire season, with ‘the professor’ Dovizioso critiquing both the bike and himself to the point it almost feels like he’s a backmarker rather than a title contender.

It is a mark of the high standards he sets himself and Ducati, not to mention the bar Marquez continues to raise against him, but the negativity weighs heavily when he loses out.

This criticism focuses sharply on Dovizioso’s race craft, an area where he contrasts the most to Marquez, with his lack of “that touch of madness” holding him back on occasions in the heat of the battle.

“Maybe his fewer mistakes allow him to bring home many good results but then maybe he lacks that touch of madness that maybe the “Ducatisti” would appreciate,” Claudio Domenicali, Ducati CEO, says during the film.

“I’d like to see him more instinctive and less thoughtful, especially in race situations. Let’s be clear, being a rationaliser lets you bring home the best possible result in some races, but in others, you need to let the other horse run, so to speak. In this, Andrea could probably do better,” Gigi Dall’Igna, Ducati general manager, adds.

Dovizioso alludes to using his rational approach against Marquez but as the season progresses and the points gap between the pair grows the confidence behind that plan quickly fades.

What will also cause greater concern, as shown in the Marquez film, is the evolution of the Spaniard’s rational side through his confidence as a MotoGP world champion.

While Marquez and Dovizioso only share two race battles that go down to the final lap in 2019, and Dovizioso triumphs in both in Qatar and Austria, the Italian is unable to remain an ever-present threat at the front compared to the Repsol Honda rider’s dominance which tears away at him during the season.

Dovizioso’s own mental approach to racing is also examined in the film as the Italian is assessed by sport neuropsychologist Eugenio Lizama and in one test is trained to keep a clear mind while watching one of his previous races.

Clarity of mind and getting into ‘the zone’ is a common topic in motorsport and credited with allowing drivers and riders to reach new levels of performance. While the psychology continues to be explored, Dovizioso’s builds it into his own training aiming to minimise distractions and the self-critical doubts.

The Marquez factor

If you were a complete stranger to MotoGP, at times you could be mistaken for thinking Marquez was the only rider on the grid racing against Dovizioso.

With the world title his sole focus and Marquez as defending champion, naturally the Spaniard plays a significant role in how his season develops. But in every team debrief and discussion the cameras spy into, Marquez is almost always mentioned – even when discussing technical tweaks to his Ducati bike.

The Marquez factor openly has a dominating factor on Dovizioso’s thinking, given the pressure he is under as Ducati’s leading man to topple his ongoing domination, almost to a point where it becomes an obsession.

It has become the million-dollar question for everyone in MotoGP and while a mutual respect is shared between Dovizioso and Marquez, the Italian’s frustration is evident as he feels his 2019 world title prospects slipping away.

Dovizioso doubts the Ducati GP19

Another overriding feeling which works in coordination with Marquez’s domination is how openly critical Dovizioso is about the weaknesses with the Ducati Desmosedici GP19.

Straight-line speed and outright power are Ducati’s strengths, albeit dampened by Honda’s horsepower gains that year, as Dovizioso’s complaints centre on the handling and corner speed capabilities of his bike compared to his rivals.

This isn’t a surprise given his feedback to the media throughout the 2019 season along with the peaks and dips in his results when connected to the circuit characteristics.

It gains intense attention at the Circuit of the Americas, Assen and Sachsenring races and is foreshadowed at the season opener at Losail despite Dovizioso’s victory.

“This weekend we did everything perfectly. We got back on track. I started riding well again but damn, as I am a little pessimistic. I am a little bit worried about the championship,” Dovizioso tells his entire Ducati team after winning in Qatar.

“The point is it’s not only Marc going faster. There are others. We can’t have the corner speed they have, I know that, and we don’t look for that, but there is too much difference, dammit! If we can’t do this on some tracks, we’ll lose too many point like the other years.”

The problems aren’t necessarily unexpected given the inherit characteristics of the V4 engine Ducati when compared to its inline-four Yamaha and Suzuki rivals, but it is apparent the improvements Dovizioso anticipated for the season are either not working or not forthcoming from his team.

Dovizioso wants to be angrier at Petrucci’s Mugello win

“What pisses me off is that he went in without worrying. I mean, entering normal, but it means that you just don’t care about what happens to others. In the end, I kind of created this present situation so I must be careful of what I say,” Dovizioso told his inner circle after the Italian Grand Prix.

In hindsight it becomes a lighter moment to reflect on Dovizioso’s 2019 but at the time the anger is apparent as he is forced back to third place behind main rival Marquez and maiden MotoGP winner Petrucci at Mugello.

With not-so-friendly team-mate Lorenzo replaced by Petrucci for 2019, Dovizioso was looking to form a co-operative partnership to ultimate help rather than hinder his title attack. In Petrucci he found a friend and ally to become his Ducati team-mate but that goes out of the window when a race win is on the line.

And when Petrucci dives up the inside of both Dovizioso and Marquez at the start of the final lap at Turn 1, forcing Dovizioso to back off to avoid being sandwiched by his rivals, it allows Petrucci to power to victory but also gives Marquez second place in front of Dovizioso. Friend had become foe in a race Dovizioso was desperate to claw back points on Marquez.

As the season would progress it wouldn’t count for much given the eventual points difference in the final championship standings, but at the time the emotions remain raw for the Italian.

“Andrea let go sometimes!” – a member of Dovizioso’s team responds to his moan about Petrucci.

If and when the 2020 MotoGP season starts amid the coronavirus situation, letting go will be an overriding message Dovizioso will want to learn from.

The film release coincides with Dovizioso’s change of motif for 2020, written on the back of his Ducati leathers, which has switched from ‘DesmoDovi’ to ‘Undaunted’. At Ducati’s 2020 team launch he explained it as a change of mindset and approach to becoming MotoGP world champion.

Time will tell if the new ‘Undaunted Dovi’ can write a happy ending to a familiar story.

 

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