The Choice is Made: Ducati to Keep Andrea Dovizioso for Two More Seasons

MotoGP's rider market has moved into overdrive this week. Over the weekend, reports came in from the Spanish media that Maverick Viñales had signed with Yamaha, with that deal to be announced at Mugello on Thursday. Confirmation that Viñales will be leaving Suzuki came from our friends over at Asphalt & Rubber on Monday. Later that day, Repsol Honda announced they had extended Dani Pedrosa's contract for a further two years, leaving another of the top seats filled.

The deluge of announcements continued today, with Ducati announcing that they have chosen one of the two Andreas to remain in Ducati and partner Jorge Lorenzo for the next two seasons. Unsurprisingly, Ducati have gone with Dovizioso to stay in the team, selecting the Italian's long experience of developing the bike over Iannone's raw, and sometimes uncontrolled, talent.

The announcement follows something of a reversal of fortune for Andrea Iannone, the Italian who will be losing his seat at Ducati. Iannone had been the early favorite to stay, with the framework of an agreement reached after Qatar, which was due to be announced at the Austin round in April. However, Iannone's ill-judged pass on his teammate in the penultimate corner, which took both him and Dovizioso out of a certain double Ducati podium, caused the Bologna factory to have a drastic rethink.

A podium at Austin won Iannone back some of the credit he had lost in Argentina, but the tide had turned. His crash at Le Mans appears to have been the last straw in the making of the decision, Ducati choosing to stick with the rider they can trust to bring the bike home.

It should not be underestimated just how big a role Dovizioso's experience over the past four years also played a role in the decision. The Italian has helped bring the bike from the badly understeering Desmosedici GP13 on to what is basically a very strong bike with excellent handling in the 2016 version of the machine. Though Dovizioso is said to run a very peculiar set up - a lot of weight on the front of the bike - his feedback is very precise, and he is capable of describing in great detail what is happening with the bike. Having a solid asset like that alongside the undoubted speed of Jorge Lorenzo should help Ducati turn the 2017 version of the Desmosedici into a bike which is capable of challenging for the championship.

Though Andrea Iannone is out of Ducati, he is still in high demand. Talks have been ongoing for sometime with Suzuki, and with Viñales now gone, Suzuki will be taking a long hard look at the Italian. But Iannone is also believed to have a very big money offer on the table to race for Aprilia. Iannone has strong links with the factory through his time in Moto2 with Speed Up, who had raced 250s with Aprilia before the switch to Moto2. But the Aprilia RS-GP is still very much a work in progress, and rumors so far suggest Iannone is less interested in taking that risk.

The Ducati announcement now leaves both Movistar Yamaha seats filled, and both factory Ducati seats. Dani Pedrosa will take one Repsol Honda seat, while Marc Marquez is almost certain to take the second seat. With Sam Lowes already having a contract with Aprilia next year, and Bradley Smith taking one seat at KTM, that leaves both Suzuki seats, and an open seat at both KTM and Aprilia left to fill of the factory seats.

The Ducati press release announcing Dovizioso's signing appears below:

Andrea Dovizioso confirmed in Ducati Team for 2017 and 2018

Ducati wishes to announce that it has reached an agreement with Andrea Dovizioso for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP seasons. The Romagna-born rider, who has been with Ducati since 2013, will team up with Jorge Lorenzo for the next two seasons aboard the Ducati Team’s Desmosedici GP bike.

Andrea Dovizioso: “I am very satisfied to have reached this agreement with Ducati and to be able to continue the adventure begun back with them in 2013. In the last few years we have worked with a lot of commitment and we have succeeded in taking the Desmosedici GP to an excellent competitive level, and so I am convinced that soon we will obtain the satisfaction that we deserve.”

The 2016 championship will therefore be Andrea Iannone’s final season with the Ducati Team. The Abruzzo-born rider, after two years in the “factory-supported” Pramac Racing outfit, moved to the factory team in 2015, immediately showing his great talent and pace, and he will undoubtedly give his utmost in the remaining rounds of the season in order to conclude his experience in Ducati in the best possible way.

Andrea Iannone: “Obviously I am sorry that my time with Ducati will draw to a close at the end of this season, but I am grateful to the Bologna manufacturer for the opportunity it has given me in the last few years. I made my MotoGP debut with Ducati and I have grown up with them, always succeeding in improving my level of performance. In the remaining races I will give my all, as I always do, because I am convinced that thanks to the competitiveness of the Desmosedici GP we can achieve some great results.”

Luigi Dall’Igna: “It’s never easy to take a decision like this one, especially when you have two great riders like the two Andreas in your team. We are very happy that Dovizioso has agreed to stay with us for the next two years, and together with him we can continue the successful work we began four years ago in order to reach the ambitious aims we have set for ourselves. We are sorry for Andrea Iannone, who at the end of the season will no longer be a part of the team. Andrea has carried out an important job in these years and has made a significant contribution to the development of the Ducati Desmosedici GP. For this reason we would like to thank him and we will provide him with our maximum commitment in the next rounds of the championship, in order to obtain the prestigious results that are for sure within his reach.”


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I'm sure Dovi is deserving, but I'm sad we're not going to get the inevitable Iannone/Lorenzo clash of personalities. Dovi will put the bike where it's capable of finishing, and nothing more.  

Not surprized Dovizioso is staying.  Same as Pedrosa. Both good solid riders, just never going to be the "stars", reminds me of Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello in F1. 

Could be the best thing ever to happen to Iannone if he gets the crashing out of his system and takes the Suzuki ride.  He could be the biggest winner of silly season providing Suzuki puts the $$$ behind their effort and makes their bike more competitive.

Before signing Jorge a Iannone looked good. With him Dovi looks like a solid line up. I always have very keen interest on the riders that have the potential to Alien AND are at that proper time to do so. Then getting on a bike that can.

One Andrea is. And I look forward to watching the aggression being tempered with great focused intensity on the Suzuki. I was lamenting Suzuki's loss of the one other rider also at that blossoming point right now in MotoGP for the last 24hrs, not because I don't want to see Vinales on Yamaha (I do!) but because I very much want to see Suzuki get dry podiums and feared that they would drop back to mid pack without such a rider. Freud ranked human defenses and the greatest of them was Sublimation, transforming adverse struggle into greatness, trancendence. Alchemy. Composting the crap.

We now have the best bike on the grid with a 3rd best rider and a top 5 rider ready to leave mortal orbit. Our top rider is on a bike suffering through awkward growing pains that tie a hand behind his back. Our other top rider has gone to Ducati where the bike is the second best on the grid and getting better. Suzuki and LCR are lining up a satellite addition, perhaps with the talented and eager Crutchlow aboard to help with development and data. LCR also has something special to share in the sponsorship development strategy dept, and is about to save a WHOLE lot of money on next year's bike...that is easy to ride and work with. And like Fausto's outfit just did, bring the competent LCR organization from a customer to a big player in the paddock. I had preferred to see Pons back, but LCR will do GREAT. Another sort of race to follow.

Rossi and Vinales in blue
Lorenzo riding red
Marquez and HRC flogging the dog back into form
Iannone on the Suzuki with a program continuing on the rise (and they just saved at least a million Euros on him relative to what he would have been worth at Qatar this year).

All with something to prove...PERFECT

Edit - I am not after stars w postings, and yet remain interested in the perspectives of folks giving them. Hop on in w a specific response. Yes, I put Iannone and Vinales on par with each other and am happy to see that we (will? may?) have AI29 at Suzuki, and look fwd to next yr's chase. What say you?

As I see it you said that Rossi is the third best rider on the grid as things stand at the moment. I actually agree with this (bearing in mind we're talking about racing and therefore raw speed), however from what I've seen there are people who like to vote things down if the comment doesn't acknowledge rossi as the greatest ever.
I am intrigued by the prospect of Iannone at Suzuki. Many riders both now and historically have been given massive credit for mediocre (5th or 6th place) finishes on the zuk, but when given a recognised bike to ride have not lived up to the promise, just look at Bautista when he went to Honda. That makes me think the Suzuki might actually have a pretty damn good idea how to make a motogp bike, so bring on crazy joe

"Just look at Bautista when he went to Honda" - You mean when he went on to finish his first Honda season in 5th with two podiums, right behind the factory Hondas, Lorenzo and Dovi on the Tech3? And then he did almost the same points haul the next season before the bike got more fine-tuned to steaming piles of bleep. I am honestly curious what kind of results you were expecting him to get with that bike, considering the number of people winning anything in this time period who weren't named Stoner, Lorenzo, Rossi, Marquez or Pedrosa. Or sitting on a factory ride in general.

Wasn't Bautista on the Honda also using Nissin brakes and Showa suspension, pretty much invalidating any setup data sharing between HRC factory (or any other Honda), which may have impacted his potential?

I thought his Honda results were in-line or exceeding expectations to be honest.

I believe Lorenzo had some weight in this.

For sure he wouldn't want another agressive Ducati harrasing him while he gets to grips with the new team, nor anyone taking points from him, he must have said something along the lines of "I don't want this maniac besides me or anywhere close" (with presumably justifiable reason, but of course this is all speculation and will never see the light of day if true)


For me it was a bad decision in the sense that Ianone seems to have more untapped potential than Dovi, who's raced RCV's, M1's and whatnot and still never a win in dry, he's kind of another Pedrosa, an almost there but not quite, for me Dovi is at the top of his potential while Ianone seems to be hungrier (though sometimes erratically desperate).

The answer lies in an old saying, "You can teach a fast rider not to crash but you can't teach a slow rider to be fast"

Only my opinion and I ain't expecting many stars on this one. :(

I'm pretty in line with you on the Dovizioso/Iannone comparison. As you say, Iannone has greater outright potential, he's just not the right rider to pair with Lorenzo. My disagreement is actually with the Dovizioso/Pedrosa comparison. 

Dani Pedrosa is in the top ten all time for both premier class victories and Grand Prix victories across all classes. Andrea Dovizioso's most noteworthy achievement is having the most podium finishes of premier class single-race winners.

And don't get me wrong, that's a genuine accomplishment! It entails a tremendous amount of talent. But he's no Dani Pedrosa. 

...but chances are Iannone will now be on a Suzuki which has promise for 2017; and will be free to attack as hard as he likes in last corners, with no opportunity for Jorge to have him reined in by a mutual master.

He wouldn't want a sometimes eratic rider taking him out in the last corner.  AI can be fast, he showed that in moto2, but he has a propensity to throw bikes at the scenery too often, which he also showed in moto2.  We thought he was maturing last year, but evidently he was just hurting still.

Upstaging him????  Are you serious?  The occasional dynamic ride followed by bouts of inconsistency, compared to The Metronome's recent efforts on the Yamaha.

I reckon Ducati know who is more valuable to them at the minute.  Dovi is not as mercurial as Iannone, but he's certainly more consistent.

Dovi has been ever close but no cigar in GP, but he knows HRC L4, Yamaha transverse 4, Ducati L4, desmo, pneumatic valve trains et al.

He also knows close up back in 250, Lorenzo, in GP, Stoner. 

With Iannone farmed out, the final Ducati #46 link is history for 2 years. Many touted as did I, that Petrux would be a Lorenzo team mate, but he is a Rossi mate.

Not only have Ducati got their rider lineup in order, they have their foreign policy in order.

Delighted.... Forza Ducati 2017...10 years after.

I am not surprised at the decision.  Actually surprised they, Ducati, gave Ianonne on more chance to prove himself after I saw the looks on their faces in the paddock.  It seems he has more talent than Dovisioso, but less mental discipline.  Dovi stayed cool while Iannone fell apart at the seams.  Unforced errors he made on his own.  Hope Iannone learns and improves from this point.   Otherwise he may be another rider with potential that fades away into a memory.  His battles with Marquez back in the Moto2 days were well worth watching.   Was hoping he would bring that to Motogp.  Oh well.  Dovi has earned his position with consistancy.  The one thing that Dovi is ahead of Iannone in this year.  Congrats to him.

Business came first in this decision, and with Jorge coming in with no experience on a Duc, either needing time to adjust, get over and potential DNFs, etc, the better team mate is someone who can get in the top 5 and bring home the constructor points.  AD and AI have both found different ways of not achieving that this year, but AI's defeats have been a bit more self inflicted.  

Not the right decision in my opinion. What does Dovizisio have to offer when you have Lorenzo?

Iannone on the Suzuki will do well.

"...rumors so far suggest Iannone is less interested in taking that risk."

I along with many others had such high hopes for AI29, but his crash at Le Mans was indeed the last straw for many people, including his employers. He seems to have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that supporting him further, and placing any more hope in him actually keeping his head together for a sustained campaign is the only real risk involved with Maniac Joe.

Crashing is an acceptable and expected part of this business, but only to a certain point. Iannone crossed that point in France after showing (yet again) just how fast and capable the Ducati now is - in the right hands. If you fail to finish, it means nothing.

This all being said, do not be surprised if there is a stipulation in Dovi's new contract stating that if Iannone now wins 3 races this year and #04 wins only one or none (because the bike is clearly capable of winning) all contracts are null and void.

As they say in Italy, it's not over until the fat lady sings - so don't go all in on anything at any time, but especially before you see who lines up on what in Qatar, 2017.

There is no such thing as an iron-clad contract in GP racing. Results trump everything.

I've never in my life heard of a "you've got the spot for next year and we'll announce it to the world now but if you suck later this season we're totally reneging" contract. I'd be happy to go all in on the bet that AD is still on Ducati next year. What's the friendly wager? :)

What possible reason would Dovi have for signing a contract like that? Racers make some poor decisions regarding contracts but no one would sign that, it could far too easily end up with them hitting the end of the season and not having a ride for the next.

So the known unknowns;
Suzuki - Iannone and Zarco?
KTM - Smith and ?
Aprillia Lowes and ?   Bradl?
Tech 3 Folger and ?
Pramac no change?
Crutchlow is approved by HRC for an RCV.  If LCR drop Honda for Suzuki I'm geussing Crutchlow will be placed in M VDS Honda at the  expense of Rabat or Miller.
What we can say is Rins' gamble didnt work, he's either going to a satellite Honda or Tech 3;-  Either way he'll probably take a seat that an Espargaro (pick one, anyone) has an eye on.
Lafferty so far is looking like a rider who might jump up the pecking order at Ducati but could also be a candidate for M VDS, cant see the imcumbants making the cut.

So Ducati finally make their move. It's a shame one of the Andreas had to lose out, it was very difficult to call. But with Lorenzo coming into the team, having a team mate like Dovi is very good team dynamics.

As others have said, it's a very similar setup to Repsol Honda. Star number 1 rider with a very good dependable number 2 to back things up, makes good sense.

Though it's real shame how it's all unfolded for Iannone so rapidly in the space of a few months. I still think he has the making of joining the 'aliens' provided he ever sorts out his consistency. Suzuki must be his best bet going forwards.

The new pairing for 2017 will be really interesting to watch. Let's not forget, Lorenzo and Dovi used to be fierce rivals back in the 125 and 250 days. Those years from 2004-2007 were fasinating viewing, with Dovi on the Honda and Jorge on the Aprilla battling it out week after week.

Feels sorta full circle that after all these years against each other that they're now going to be team mates. But a very good pairing, one that will ultimately benefit Ducati in the long run.

Allow me to give more context to what I’m trying to say:

This is a very unique season in GP, in which we are seeing a very unique silly season as a result. Never before have there been contract negotiations so early, with such fervor and widespread speculation involving so many riders inside and during the season. Ever.

There likewise has never been so much of a championship still to be run before everything had gone - silly.

Now hypothetically speaking, if Dovizioso (as unlikely as it is) at some point this year (there is A LOT left) were to let's say take out Iannone while both were in line for a podium, and then (again unlikely) started to suddenly crash a lot afterwards due to the pressure or whatever - while Iannone started racking up the wins in the absence of pressure and in an everything to prove and play for environment - would the same line of reasoning that presumably made Ducati choose #04 over #29 not re-emerge, only this time not favouring AD?

There’s a contract now, you say? Yes, but what I’m trying to get across is that after years of following this sport very closely, what I have seen is that everything and anything can be undone in this business if there is enough motive and incentive to do so. That’s all. I’m not saying it will happen, only that it can - and (yet again) that the season is still very young, so hold on.

I like Dovi a lot. He's a class act. But Iannone is clearly faster. Period. This holds far more sway than we can imagine in a racing organization at this level. (Not to mention AI29 having vastly more room to grow and improve as a rider, being younger and less formed.) Further, and yet again like I’ve already mentioned, there are a lot of races still to be run in 2016, and the results can go any way imaginable after those races. I'm just leaving the door wide open for a surprise given the type of year it's been so far.

I personally don’t think that Ducati brass have not had thoughts like this, and haven’t as a result allowed for any possibility, thus putting into place a contingency. They must, after all, because this is racing, and absolutely anything is possible. Highly unlikely, yes, but still possible. Stranger things have happened.

Let’s see how it all plays out. There’s plenty more opportunity for surprises still to come, and at this point the only surprise to me would be no more surprises before the end.

Like I said, I wouldn't go all in on anything this year. ;)

that was such a weird move, I mean keeping the slow rider? that makes no sense not even from a marketing point of view, Iannone was kinda like the franchise player for Ducati, young, fast, came up through the ranks, loved by the Italians..... David I read a year ago that the Maniac's contract was odd in the sense that he gets pretty much nothing from Ducati and that his income comes only from sponsorship, I know this is a really dark subject, but is there any truth to this mystery? anyway to me this smells like Lorenzo not wanting another fast Italian as a teammate...

Next year they get a proven title winner and don't want a loose cannon screwing things up.  AI's nickname is 'Crazy Joe' for a reason!  Dovi won't make a stupid pass attempt and take people out, Iannone will.  Dovi will accept being the number 2 rider, Iannone won't.  If Iannone wins a couple of races this year and Dovi does not Ducati will thank AI but still be happy with their choice.  They want the title next year and that is why they hired Lorenzo.  Everything else is to support that effort, hence keeping Dovi and letting AI go.



well if iannone  go's  to suzuki ? ...   i am having a smile :D   

is it 2017 allready ?



Though exciting, I do not like these early silly season, since it seems silly in every sense to me. Obvisously triggered by Yamaha and especially Ducati this time. I like to see sportsmen and worksteams totally devoted to the current season or coming races. In some way this all draw some attention away from the current season and let me guess that for the mainplayers of the game there are more important things than current racing season. Reminds me of a subtop MotoGP rider, who quited only some years ago and telling in an interview that he does not follow motogp most of the time maybe only if the circus arrives in the country he would watch a race. I cannot imagine this, as it used to be his life. 

Problably Marlboro brough so much money in in the playing game that even the aliens lost sense and getting only thinking of opportunities that can be missed. 

How can I take Lorge Lorenzo seriously while promoting Yamaha the rest of the year? What is he worth for yamaha this whole year? "We have the best racer and he rather wants to be on a Ducati" is not the marketingtoy they probably are willing to pay for. In daily life if people switch employeers we consider them as a companyrisk and shut down systemaccounts as soon as possible. And now a new learning curve will begin for both Suzuki and Vinales, so we have to wait for them longer to arrive at the absolute top. I think we are robbed by Marlboro from new aliens and new machinery in the top of Motogp, and next season we will only have Marquez and Rossi on top

I see that the general opinion is that Dovioso is slower than Iannone. I do not think there is any truth in this. In fact, besides his own crash he should have been second in the ranking this year if he did not have bad luck.

I think it's more of a potential thing - Dovi has been on every bike so far; we've seen what he can do.  He is at his limit.  Iannone still has potential to be faster.