Factory Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso said he was braking ‘like a stupid rider’ as he attempted to hold off Maverick Vinales and hunt down Fabio Quartararo in the closing stages, as the Italian returned to the podium in third place at Motegi.
The Italian worked his way forwards progressively through the race, after struggling in the early stages of the race on a full tank of fuel. As the race went on, Dovizioso found more pace and into third position, holding off a challenge from Maverick Vinales.
Dovizioso said he and his Ducati team need to struggle as he really struggled in the early stages of the race when the grip levels were high for everybody.
“It was a bit strange race, we had a lot of questions marks before the race,” said the Italian.
“Tyre choice, the set-up, also in the warmup I didn’t feel good, so I wasn’t so comfortable before the race to make this kid of race. So, about that we are happy, also because the gap is not that big at the end of the race.
“But we struggle in the first half of the race when the grip was good from everybody, but we wasn’t fast enough. I was losing too much in the middle of the corners, I couldn’t be faster than Morbidelli.
“So, lap by lap the tyre dropped and my bike worked better and better and better. I was able to brake better and my lap time improve. So really happy about the last half of the race, because my feeling was really good, and my lap time was good.
“But we are not fast when the grip is good, and this is something we need to analyse and study because like in the practice, we struggle to be in the top like at the beginning of the race. A bit disappointed about that, like when you see the end of the race, I was really fast, but this is the situation and we need to analyse.”
Dovizioso admitted that he was playing around with the mapping on his bike later in the race, but his late race pace wasn’t because of a change in mapping, instead down to some caviler braking on his part.
“I was playing because everybody was on the limit, but I wasn’t faster for that,” he said.
“I was faster just because I took too many risks and I brake like a stupid rider. I lock the front too many times, but I saw Fabio really struggling so that was my good point in the race.
“Compared to everybody, the braking was really good, especially in turn eleven I was able to gain a lot, so I was pushing in that area and I was able to be smooth.
“Fortunately, in the race, when I wasn’t able to be fast at the beginning, I was calm, always riding in a smooth way. So, at the end when the bike work a bit better, I was able to be fast.”
With a third-place finish today, Dovizioso claimed his one hundredth career podium and further strengthened his grip on second place in the World Championship. Looking like he will better his points total from last year, but finish further behind Marquez, Dovizioso was asked if Marquez has simply been too good this year.
“This is the reality. I think we have a good gap with Rins and Vinales, but the next three races I think we need to be smart, because they’re not that good for you,” said Dovizioso.
“So, we have to work in the right way and make the points, as you never know, anything can happen. It’s important to gain some points here, we didn’t gain a lot, but at the end it was important to stay in front of them and we did it. Let’s see in Phillip Island the weather and what we can do.”