Going into the 2017 MotoGP season, few expected that Andrea Dovizioso would be fighting for the title all the way to the final round in Valencia, Spain. The 31-year-old Italian may have missed out on championship glory, but the factory Ducati rider cemented his legacy during what is a true golden age of the sport.
In 2016, Dovizioso won in Malaysia, only his second premier-class victory; the first coming at a drenched British Grand Prix in 2009, his second year in MotoGP. That makes Dovi’s six victories in 2017 all the more special, particularly since Ducati hired five-time world champ Jorge Lorenzo to be its number-one rider.
“I think we have to be happy with what we did,” Dovizioso said after the final round at Valencia. “For sure, everybody has to improve, and I improved a lot. After this year, my mind will be even more open to try and win the championship. We started like I would like but we didn’t [think we] really had a chance before Qatar.”
Characterized by an imperturbable mindset that even Marquez’s trademark aggression could not shake on the track coupled with his Mr. Nice Guy reputation, Dovizioso has earned the respect of the paddock. After re-entering the pits after crashing out at Valencia and throwing away any shot at winning the title, Dovizioso received a hero’s welcome in the Ducati garage.