Andrea Dovizioso hailed a “perfect race” after holding off Ducati teammate Jorge Lorenzo and MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez to win the Czech Grand Prix and end the Italian team’s long drought at Brno.
Eleven years have passed since Ducati last topped the podium at the sweeping Brno circuit, but Casey Stoner’s 2007 victory was forgotten in style on Sunday as Dovizioso led home a one-two finish to clinch their best result of the season, matching the one secured at Mugello in June.
“What a weekend,” Dovizioso said. “I expected to be fast, but not like this. Pole position and then a really perfect race because everybody was struggling with the rear tyre and ride very smoothly but I didn’t think it would be perfect.
“Jorge was there and Marc was there but I had a feeling they were on a limit unlike me, so my strategy worked and I didn’t give up, and that was a perfect move. Really happy for the team and all the people at Ducati because I know how many hours they’re working.”
Dovizioso made a strong start from pole position but saw Valentino Rossi take the lead on the opening lap as Bradley Smith, Maverick Vinales and Stefan Bradl all crashed at turn three. Behind them, Lorenzo and Marquez began their race-long squabble as the former passed the latter when Marquez was unable to complete a move on Rossi – who had already conceded the lead back to Dovizioso – due to the yellow flags from the opening-lap crash.
Hot temperatures in Brno meant that riders were doing their best not to burn out their tyres, and so a precession developed with 11 bikes making up the lead group, with the only progress seeing Britain’s Cal Crutchlow go from seventh to fourth after a poor start.
But as the paced quickened, the Yamaha struggles became apparent as Rossi started to fall away, with Marquez, Lorenzo and Crutchlow all getting past by the half-way point of the race. If it was all going wrong for the Italian in his efforts to win Yamahas' first grand prix in over a year, it was falling into place for Lorenzo as he passed Crutchlow for third before a brave move into the final chicane saw him take both Marquez and Dovizioso to lead, albeit for a handful of seconds as Dovizioso immediately responded.
From there the Italian was able to command the race and remain out in front to take his second win of the season, but Marquez surprised Lorenzo two laps from home to put the Honda between the Ducatis. Lorenzo had something left in the tank, though, and after fighting back at Turn Five on the final lap, he just fell short in having a run at his teammate through the final turn.
“[It was a] spectacular race with a lot of fight at the end because this time I prefer to be a little bit slower at the start in third and fourth position to safe a little bit of tyre to attack at the end,” Lorenzo said. “Unfortunately Marc attacked me two laps from the end so Dovi got away a little bit and I couldn’t make the final attack, but for Ducati it’s perfect with first and second so we are very happy.”
Rossi managed to pass Crutchlow at the final corner of the race to take fourth, but the result sees Marquez extend his lead over Rossi in the riders’ championship to 49 points with eight races remaining this season, beginning with the Austrian Grand Prix next weekend before the Silverstone gets underway at the end of the month.
The target of this weekend was to try extend the advantage in the championship by winning,” Marquez said. “We arrived here with 46 points, we go home 49 points [ahead] so it is good and today Ducati had a little bit more.
“It was so difficult to fight against them because they had really strong acceleration but ok, they are quite happy with the win but now I’m confident because this is a track where we normally struggle and we were really close to the top, so we’ll arrive at better races.”
2. Jorge Lorenzo
3. Marc Marquez
4. Valentino Rossi
5. Cal Crutchlow
6. Danilo Petrucci
7. Johan Zarco
8. Dani Pedrosa
9. Alvaro Bautista
10. Andrea Iannone
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