Andrea Dovizioso says the MotoGP title race is “completely open” heading into the final five races, as he believes none of the remaining tracks will overwhelmingly favour either Honda or Ducati.
Dovizioso, who is level on points with Honda’s Marc Marquez at the top of the standings, had stated earlier this season that Ducati needed to improve to sustain its title challenge – as there remained circuits where the Italian marque’s bike has historically not been competitive enough.
However, the Desmosedici GP17 performed well at Silverstone and Misano – two venues where Ducati was not expected to excel – and Dovizioso is now confident his team can consistently take the fight to Honda.
Asked after the Misano race which of the remaining tracks was likely to favour either manufacturer, Dovizioso said he didn’t know.
He explained: “For sure, there are some tracks that I prefer, some tracks he [Marquez] prefer, but it’s more important how the bike work with the tyre we have in that weekend. So it’s impossible to know now.
“I think will be completely open. For sure Marc confirm, and Honda, that they are really strong this moment.
“But also we confirm – in some tracks, in some conditions, where normally we wasn’t fast in the past, and now we are fast.”
Dovizioso also brushed off suggestions that he would look to minimise his points losses relative to Marquez in Aragon, the Spanish venue traditionally a happy hunting ground for his Honda rival.
Marquez has scored four consecutive premier-class poles at Aragon and comfortably won last year’s race, in which none of the eight participating Ducati bikes even made the top 10.
“At Aragon we are out to win,” Dovizioso claimed. “That must be our approach. If we don’t think that, how can we hope to beat someone like Marc?
“We will have to work as we’ve done the last few races, although Aragon is one of Marc’s favourite tracks. It makes a difference, but we can’t say we won’t try.
“There’s no point speaking about tracks that are more or less favourable. In theory we should not have been competitive [at Misano] but we were fast. So it’s difficult to make predictions in that sense.”
For his part, Marquez also said he couldn’t guess how Honda and Ducati would stack up over the remaining rounds, given that the recent races have not been as expected.
“Honestly in Austria I expect to finish 10 seconds behind Dovi,” he said at Misano. “In Silverstone, I expect that Dovi will finish more far from us. And he won, in Austria was close, here the rhythm, the pace was very similar.
“It’s difficult to say but what I know now is that Dovi is strong in every circuit, Ducati is strong in every circuit.”
He added that Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales – currently on 183 points against the two leaders’ 199 – remained a factor in the title fight.
“Also Vinales, we cannot forget him, he is only 16 points behind,” Marquez insisted. “Looks like he had a good pace, even on wet – normally he struggle much more, [but] he finished fourth.”