Andrea Dovizioso Interview: On Struggling With Yamaha, Battles With Marc Marquez, The Undaunted Documentary, And The Future

As he approaches the 346th and final Grand Prix of a storied career, Andrea Dovizoso gives his impressions on the current state of MotoGP, a 21-year career and what the future holds.

There’s no dressing it up. His latest – and last – career foray has not gone to plan for Andrea Dovizioso. The veteran Italian, who has racked up a world championship and 15 premier class wins across a decorated 21-year stay in the grand prix paddock, had visions of fighting for race wins and more when he returned during a career sabbatical last September.

Instead, the 36-year old has been reduced to a bit-part player in a series where he used to have a leading role. His struggles aboard the 2022 RNF Yamaha M1 have been so bad that he’s claimed just eleven points from the first 13 races. After failing to confirm he’d complete the full season before the summer break, it was announced Dovizioso would call time on his career six races early, after competing at Misano – his home GP.

It’s been tough at times to watch the figure that pushed Marc Marquez hardest between 2017 and 2019 struggle in such fashion. Across the past six months, there have been no real signs of progress, and only a few fleeting moments when he claims to have felt comfortable, more natural aboard a bike which requires a polar opposite riding technique to Ducati’s Desmosedici machinery, which he commanded for eight years. Prior to his final race, Dovizioso had failed to finish closer than 20 seconds to the race winner – an eon to a man of his pedigree.

But long before our conversation on the eve of the Dutch TT, Dovizioso had come to accept he would never be capable of riding Yamaha’s particular ’22 M1 like current championship leader Fabio Quartararo. “You can’t ride in an instinctive way. It’s becoming a more irrational way to ride, and that’s not so good. But it’s the reality. You can’t change that enough,” he told Motomatters.

Yet rather than feel bitterness or anger at the situation, the 2004 125cc World Champion is philosophical. In a chat that covered the current state of MotoGP, the finest achievement of his career, and the real reasons for making that documentary while at Ducati, Dovizioso gives the kind of insight that singled him out as one of the sport’s most intelligent figures, as well as fastest riders.

Q: Can you still take satisfaction or enjoyment from a season when the results aren’t there?

Andrea Dovizioso: On one side I think everything you do, no matter which way it ends, is always experience. You have to try to always take – it’s not about positives – experience. When you are not in the situation you want, a lot of important things happen which are very important for your life, to understand what you want, what you don’t want, what you have to do in a different way. In the end every experience is an experience. Even if it’s not good, you have to take experience from it. That means trying to analyze and understand. Those things. For sure, this is not what I want – 100 percent. But if you start to look a lot at careers of top riders, many times similar situations happen. I think there is always a reason why. Nobody has the situation under control. Nobody wants it, but in the end it’s normal.

Q: How are you measuring progress this year? Do you look at results and lap times? Or is it about feeling? Because I don’t recall you ever saying you felt truly comfortable on the bike this year.

AD: For me, from when it became clear why I couldn’t be that fast with the Yamaha now, you can’t ride in an instinctive way. You know exactly why you are not competitive in some areas. It’s becoming a more irrational way to ride, and that’s not so good. But it’s the reality. You can’t change that enough.

Q: Is Yamaha – the bike, the company and how it operates – in 2022 in any way comparable to what you experienced when you were a satellite rider at Tech3 in 2012?

AD: I think it’s exactly the same – very, very similar almost everywhere. The difference is MotoGP changed in the way manufacturers look at the bike and develop the bike. In this moment just Yamaha is still able to achieve important results. But I think this happened because the relationship between Fabio and Yamaha is so special. They are able to fight and win the title, not because the pace of the bike is good enough for most of the riders.

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A real legend of modern MotoGP. After that weird 3 bike situation at Repsol and then his unceremonious dumping, I didn't think he would really recover to a great place. Especially once on the Ducati that was nowhere near championship level. That just showed his determination and mentality, to stick it out. Would he have won the championship if Marc wasn't there? Obviously he finished 2nd place three years running, but I think the competition with Marc really elevated his game. Coulda-shoulda-woulda, who knows. Even with his struggles this year he'll always have my admiration.

^ Right?

Never heard anyone say a bad thing about him ever. The last yr w Duc was tough stuff. Hoping we hear he gets a Test spot, but not sure where that could be. I see a need at Ducati (no disrespect to Pirro). Yamaha COULD, as their new Euro Test Team is in Italy it is a natural fit. Honda won't, right? But he would be good! Orange not logical fit. 

I love the guy. This is an unusual retirement. Taking solace that it is his decision alone. He has my support and respect. He seems to enjoy dirt riding, bet he competes locally for fun. 

His departure from Ducati wasn't super amicable, but even Stoner went back to them so who knows. Less stress in retirement. I just don't think he really really wants to stick around in the MotoGP world. Testing is a slog, and while David has pointed out that Dovi's feedback is very good, I wonder if he wants that role. He hasn't gelled with the Yamaha at all as we know. Would that make him a good test rider for them? His style might not suit it very well anymore, and if he takes it in a different direction than Fabio likes I don't see it being a happy marriage.

Many thanks for a terrific career, especially with Ducati. That 2017 season in particular was fantastic! Wishing you the very best of luck in the future.

Great interview Neil.