Sure, Dovi had been the only rider to really take it to Marquez Version 2018, but that was last year. This year, Honda has either done something to its bike to make the Ducati power advantage seem less, or Marquez has spent the off-season injecting himself with snake venom and kerosene. So Dovi, like everyone else on the grid, spends his time wondering how it will be possible to beat Marquez.
I guess he worked it out in Austria.
Marquez was the first to get to Turn One. But Andrea Dovizioso made sure it came at a price. He monstered the World Champion into running wide (Ducati’s holeshot device certainly worked for him on Sunday) in Turn Three, and Fabulous was suddenly leading the MotoGP.
Miller was hard upon him, having made a brilliant start, but had run wide in Turn One, and he was joined by Rins, who also capitalised on the Marquez/Dovizioso pitfight ahead.
By Lap Two, Marquez had been relegated to third, with Dovi belting past Miller and setting off after the young Frenchman.
Back in the pack, Asparagus P’s bike stopped mid-corner. And once again, Cal Crutchlow was shaving his face with gravel – so his consistency is high.
Marquez finally managed to get past Miller and the Old Great One himself, Rossi, suddenly began to loom into the picture at the front.
Syahrin fell off. No-one can blame him. He appears to be unemployed for next year – though that may change quickly since the post-race news of Zarco parting company with KTM emerged – so maybe his heart wasn’t in it.
Marquez passed Miller, and the frenetic opening laps appeared to pull back to an angry simmer – Fabulous, Dovi, Marquez, Miller and Rossi.
But the leading three were starting to gap the old fellow. Rossi fans (ie. Me) will say Miller was actually holding The Doctor up – and they were vindicated in this view when Jack joined his mate, Cal, in the change-rooms after examining the surface of Turn Nine with his arse.
But that was all behind Dovi, who gave Fabulous a schooling in Ducati power, finally hosing him down one of the endless Red Bull Ring straights, which prompted Marquez to do so as well. But Fabulous did not go quietly unto third. He passed Marquez back under brakes, but it was futile. Marquez knew he had to catch Dovizioso. So he passed Fabulous in short order and set off after the Ducati.
And after a very brief simmer, we were back to full boil again.
Marquez and Dovi, were side by side, then Marquez was in front.
Behind them, and behind Fabulous, Rossi hammered away, while behind him, Vinales and Rins were possibly considering what their options would be at the age of 41.
At the front, Ducatis former power advantage over everything was ominously gone. Marquez was leading, but he could not shake Dovi…but nor could Dovi slam past him in a straight line. So he passed him under brakes.
Rabat fell off about this time. No-one noticed. I’m not even sure his team looked up from their card-game.
The great Marquez stalking of Dovizioso began. With five laps remaining, Marquez began positioning himself for the pass. With three laps left to go, Marquez passed Dovi under brakes coming into Turn Seven. Dovizioso slapped him back in Turn Nine.
The last lap was epic. Marquez was leading, his Honda squirming and sliding. Behind him, like right behind him, Dovi’s Ducati looked more stable. Or maybe it was being ridden that afternoon by a bloke whose blood had turned to ice, and who was determined not to surrender, no matter the cost.
The final lap and indeed, the final corner was so close and vicious, Dovi’s swingarm smashed Marquez’s brake protector off. Marquez Version 2017 and Version 2106 would have crashed on the bend. His bike was sideways, both tyres sliding as Dovi came underneath him on the last corner.
And then it was over.
Dovzioso had slain the unslayable dragon. And he did it clean and hard, and gave the world a staggeringly engaging and exciting race.
The way Davide Tardozzi was jumping around in the pits you’d think he’d been the rider. But of course, that celebration in the Ducati garage was totally justified. Ducati continues its Austrian reign. Marquez remains without a victory at the Red Bull Ring.
I hope Dovizioso remains the ruthless murderer he has once again shown himself to be.
And I hope he slaps Marquez hard in Silverstone for being cheeky enough to state after the race that no-one remembers the races you have lost when you’re the world champion.
Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.
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