Andrea Dovizioso’s lead at the Austrian GP was snatched away by Andrea Iannone, who indulged in a bit of sleight-of-hand to turn the tables.
We’re sure Dovizioso didn’t see this particular trick up his Ducati teammate’s sleeve, and it cost him the first premier-class success since 2010. Iannone’s brilliant chess move was his last-minute decision to use the medium rear tyre. This plot twist provided him with a surge in his speed that kept him consistently out of reach of Dovizioso’s attacks. Dovizioso had been played by a master and he knows it all too well.
“It was disappointing at the end because the feeling with the bike was special, everything was really good and in the braking I was better than Iannone.
“I think we both did a really good strategy; we didn’t want to take a risk about fuel consumption and the tyre consumption, so we didn’t push at the beginning. We used a different [engine] map and didn’t use the maximum speed available, but the risk that Iannone took with the [tyre] grip was a good one.
“We pushed 100-percent on the last six laps, but on the right I didn’t have the grip and I struggled because I couldn’t stay close to him to try to overtake him.”
Perhaps this virtuoso performance is a fitting swan song for Iannone. He’s slated to move to Suzuki when his contract expires, after a long spell of not quite reaching his potential with Ducati. Now, on the cusp of his departure, he’s proven to all and sundry that he can deliver the goods in the right circumstances and with the right tools. And what better tool could you have on the Red Bull Ring than the Desmosedici?
Dovizioso, meanwhile, has a ways to go with Ducati. So it could be a while before the imminent termination of his contract prompts a brilliant finishing move from him. Or perhaps with the improvements on the Desomedici, it won’t even take that long.