23 Aug 2012

Official - Andrea Dovizioso to Ducati for 2013

In what has been the worst kept secret in MotoGP for the past two weeks (we told you here and here) Andrea Dovizioso has now been officially confirmed as a Ducati rider for 2013 an 2014.

Having risen through the ranks via a 125cc World Championship Dovizioso made it to MotoGP in 2008 on a satellite Honda.  He then joined the factory Honda team on a third bike for 2009, 2010 and 2011 but was dumped when they cut back to two bikes.  This year he has been on a Yamaha with Tech3.

On paper Dovizioso looked like the best choice to replace the outgoing Valentino Rossi.  He has won a race and finished third in the championship in 2011 and is doing well on the satellite Tech3 this year - consistently outscoring his team-mate, Cal Crutchlow.

However if we look behind the statistics a different picture emerges.  Dovizioso is Italian so that ticked one box, but it doesn't make him more qualified to ride the Ducati than anyone else.  He also criticised Ducati (which we revealed here) which seems at odds with the decision to hire him - as a result many of the Corse team crew harbour a certain amount of resentment towards him.  He also has vastly more experience than Crutchlow - who is only just behind him in the championship and in the races.  One could say Cal is doing a better job based on their respective experience at MotoGP level.

But it is in riding styles that the decision to hire him seems strange.  Dovizioso is a smooth rider who likes a settled bike that is set up well for the track.  He is similar in style to Valentino Rossi who used his own crew at Honda and Yamaha to quickly set the bike up for him but who struggled at Ducati because the bike refused to comply.  Will Dovizioso suffer the same fate?

Cal Crutchlow, on the other hand, is a bit of an animal on a bike.  He is an aggressive rider who throws his weight around and should, therefore, be more able to produce results on it.

It is a cliché to say so but Crutchlow is similar in style to Stoner and, let's not forget, the feisty Australian Troy Bayliss who seized his chance and sensationally won on the Ducati at Valencia in 2006.

Whatever, Ducati have made their choice.  This is what the grid looks like for non-CRT bikes so far for 2013.

Jorge Lorenzo - Yamaha
Valentino Rossi - Yamaha
Dani Pedrosa - Honda
Marc Marquez - Honda
Nicky Hayden - Ducati
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati
Bradley Smith - Tech3 Yamaha
Stefn Bradl - LCR Honda

That leaves:

Ducati Satellite - probably Scott Redding
Ducati Satellite - probably Petrucci or Iannone
Tech3 - possibly Cal Crutchlow
Honda Satellite - possibly Bautista

The full text of Ducati's press release concerning Andrea Dovizioso's signing is below.

Borgo Panigale (Bologna) 22 August 2012 – Ducati and Andrea Dovizioso have reached an agreement that will see the Italian wearing the colours of the Ducati Team in 2013 and 2014.
Andrea Dovizioso, who currently sits in fourth place overall in the MotoGP championship standings, will join Nicky Hayden on the team. The pair will face next season together, working on development of the Desmosedici and the MotoGP project for the championship in which Ducati has played an important role since 2003.
“The agreement reached with Andrea Dovizioso confirms the company’s primary interest in racing, which is an active and strategic part of Ducati’s DNA and heritage,” said President Gabriele Del Torchio“It is with great pleasure that I welcome Andrea, as we marshal our best efforts in confronting the MotoGP World Championship. Along with Nicky Hayden, with whom we have renewed a working agreement, we are confident that we will be able to proceed with our development program, to compete, and to obtain the results and rewards that will repay our efforts and the faith that our partners, sponsors and fans have never failed to demonstrate."
“Andrea’s technical sensibility and test-riding abilities are of great value, as are his talent and determination,” added Filippo Preziosi, General Manager of Ducati Corse. “The knowledge that we will have him on our team and be able to count on his collaboration serves as an additional incentive to continue with the growth and development of our MotoGP project. I’m pleased that he has chosen to be a part of our team. He is aware of the work to be done, and he approaches it with enthusiasm and confidence, which are fundamental requirements for achieving success and for competing in this challenging championship.”