MotoGP 2018: Dovizioso, the rival that nobody expected | sports

MotoGP 2018: Dovizioso, the rival that nobody expected | sports

TO Andrea Dovizioso he likes more to ride a motorcycle than to be a pilot. He is interested in just success. And despise fame. He does not like to take pictures to hang them on social networks, or to make them people he does not know. If you sign autographs it is for education. Father of a girl of eight years, Dovizioso is an antihero who has triumphed past the 30s in a world in which talent began to be sought in dwarves mounted on a machine called minimoto. Yes, he was 125cc world champion. And twice 250cc runner-up. But he grew up in the shadow of Lorenzo and Pedrosa, two of the brightest drivers of his generation, more victories in his track record, more titles, more projection. And began to win with some regularity 10 years after debuting in MotoGP, when no one had him. When no one else was afraid of him anymore.

Three years ago he was entrusted to psychology –"The mind can be trained like a muscle", he says, that is why he works with a sports psychologist-, he allowed himself to be helped by science and technology – he has found his weak points and improved his shortcomings in collaboration with specialists in biomedical technology: his trainings are monitored-, he changed his habits of feeding and hydration, his sleeping hours … And he became a better pilot at the age at which many elite athletes begin to think about withdrawal.

The Forli driver, 32 years old, has become the antagonist of the World Motorcycle Championship in the Márquez era. Surprisingly

The arrival of Spanish to the category reigns in 2013 He generated so many expectations that he was unofficially named the replacement of Stoner in that group of champions that became known as "the magnificent four". Given that 93 stood up to Rossi and company quite quickly, began to glimpse the duel of a new generation of pilots: Viñales-Márquez. A duel that has not yet occurred. Because in these six courses only Lorenzo, in 2015, has been able to swipe a championship to Honda. And in the last two years, although Cervera has continued adding titles – this Sunday can get the fifth – there has been only one driver capable of competing with him. And that has been Dovizioso, which lengthened the fight in 2017 until the last date of the year, which has starred some spectacular face-to-face and end of career as vibrant as the one that lived a year ago in Japan, where they meet again this Sunday , or the one in Thailand a week ago, where the Spaniard won a duel in the last corner for the first time.

Back to Motegi, Dovizioso, the fastest of this Friday's practice, is the only one that can stop Catalan. "I'm here to delay the celebrations of Márquez," he said on Thursday, aware that the 77 points that separate him from the leader do not even bother to upset the champion. He made mistakes at the beginning of the course and has long since stopped thinking about the title. But last year he discovered the formula of victory (he achieved six, three this year) and intends to subscribe to the podium. "He is another pilot", says Alberto Giribuola, his technical head, another one of the architects of the hatching of a Dovi that has confirmed this course that of 2017 – "That exceeded our expectations", they confess in the box- it was not casual, nor circumstantial.

"Today, Andrea is a more relaxed person. He did some courses to control emotions and manages situations in a different way. He is more relaxed in the box and in his private life. That's why I was also predisposed to a change in the races, "says Giribuola, who participated in that change since he took office in 2016. Ducati had noticed communication deficiencies between the pilot and the previous technical chief and the arrival of this – already They knew each other, Alberto had been a data analyst for his team for two years – it improved understanding and confidence. It brought "serenity and good atmosphere" to the Italian's garage. And it led to a change of method. "Before Andrea had the conviction that if Friday morning was not competitive, it would hardly be on Sunday," he explains. Today is more patient, has learned to solve the problems one by one and paying attention to his piloting, "without getting nervous," says the technician, engineer in Mechatronics, a detail that also offers added value in a paddock in which many of the best riders have grown up accompanied by technical heads who do not have such a specialized university profile. But the trend is changing.

"Everything is evolving and electronics has more and more weight in MotoGP. Having these skills gives a clearer vision of what happens in the box, "says Giribuola, who in addition to the boss is a friend of the pilot, with whom he goes out to do motocross from time to time. Motocross is the only thing that Dovizioso has not eliminated from his routines in recent years. Keep practicing it to train, although with some change that does not reveal. In addition, he also trains with karts and jet skis. A sum that has made him the rival that nobody ever imagined.

Márquez will be champion in Japan whenever …

This weekend at the Motegi circuit Marc Márquez has before him the first opportunity to win the MotoGP title, which would be the seventh of his career. The Honda rider, 25 years old, will be a champion basically if he finishes the race ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and does not give more than two points to Ducati, his great rival.

Thus, Márquez will be champion as long as Dovizioso does not win the grand prize; as long as the Italian is not second, with Márquez, third; or third, with Márquez, fourth.

He would also be a champion even if neither of them scores, and as long as Rossi does not win the race.

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