The Italian veteran has retired from MotoGP after his home round at the Misano Grand Prix.
When you say the name Andrea Dovizioso, some new fans will think of him as a mediocre backmarker. Some casuals will say “he’s the guy who lost to Marc Marquez three times”. However, to the racing fanatics, ‘Dovi’ is a rider that we all appreciate highly, a rider who has achieved what many others could only dream of. He is a rider who has fought for world titles against the best riders in the world, even if he came short several times.
Dovi’s full-time grand prix career began in 2002, riding in the 125cc championship for Team Scot Honda. He spent three seasons in the class, winning the world championship in 2004 with a whopping 91-point gap ahead of Hector Barbera. He ended his 125cc spell with 5 wins, 15 podiums and 9 poles to his name.
He moved up to the 250cc class in 2005 with the same team, also spending three years in the class. He made a promising start, finishing 3rd overall in his rookie season with five podium finishes, as well as being rookie of the year. In the following season he would score two wins, battling for the title against Jorge Lorenzo, where he came 17 points short of the title. The following year in 2007, he made another attempt at the title, winning another two races, but finished runner-up to Lorenzo once again with an even bigger margin of 52 points. Despite losing out twice to the same rival, he still ended his 250cc stint with a respectable tally of 4 wins, 26 podiums, and 4 poles across three seasons.
He made the big step to the MotoGP category in 2008 with Team Scot aboard a satellite Honda. His strong rookie performance, which saw him finish 5th overall and beating Nicky Hayden on the factory Honda, caught the eyes of the factory squad who signed him for the 2009 season. He spent 3 years in HRC, but struggled to meet the team’s expectations across the three seasons where he claimed one victory and 14 podiums.
He was eventually dropped from the squad, and he joined Tech3 Racing for the 2012 season aboard a satellite Yamaha. The move seemed to turn his career around for the better, as he often fought for podiums against factory riders and finished as the top satellite rider in 4th overall, as well as the second-best Yamaha behind that season’s champion, his former rival Jorge Lorenzo. He was in line to partner with Lorenzo in Yamaha for the 2013 season, but ultimately missed out when the Iwata factory announced Valentino Rossi’s return following his difficult Ducati stint.
Dovi then took over the Ducati seat vacated by Rossi, taking on the challenge of rebuilding the Bologna squad back to winning ways, having last won a race in 2010 with Casey Stoner. Ducati would eventually become the highlight of Dovi’s grand prix career, especially within the Italian fanbase watching an Italian rider win with an Italian bike. The first four seasons were tough for Dovi – he had zero podiums in 2013, two podiums in 2014, and five podiums in 2015 with a close call, where he missed out on a victory by tiny a margin. All eyes were on Dovi to end Ducati’s victory drought in 2016, but he missed out once again as it was his teammate Andrea Iannone who took the honours instead. With fans doubting whether Dovi was the right man to lead Ducati (as Iannone was already dropped in favour of Lorenzo for 2017), he proved them wrong by winning the Malaysian Grand Prix, his first win since 2009.
His peak then came in 2017 until 2019. With the ongoing dominance of Marc Marquez, Ducati finally managed to build a competitive bike, and Dovi spend the three seasons battling for the world championship against Marquez, one of which went down to the wire in 2017. Although Marquez won all three seasons, the pair still managed to give the audience some iconic battles over the years, and Dovi was still widely praised for giving Marquez a challenge in the Spaniard’s era of domination. Across the three seasons, the Italian won 12 races, took 14 additional podiums, and finished as the runner-up in all seasons.
The COVID-stricken 2020 season took an unexpected twist – with Marquez ruled out of the season after a heavy crash in the opening race left him with a serious arm injury. All eyes laid on Dovi to win the title after having been best of the rest for three seasons, but by then his relationship with Ducati had already taken a sour turn. With only one victory and another podium to his name, he rode the season with a lack of motivation as he had already known he would be dropped at the end of the year.
He took a sabbatical in 2021, only spending his time testing for Aprilia or riding motocross bikes. That was until Yamaha faced a difficult situation which led to a vacated seat at Petronas Yamaha SRT; the uncompetitive A-spec Yamaha bike. Dovi was drafted to ride the remainder of the season replacing Franco Morbidelli, and signed a factory contract with the team in 2022 as the team would rebrand to WithU RNF Yamaha MotoGP. The factory deal seemed very promising as Fabio Quartararo had won the season for Yamaha, and Dovi had also expressed his regrets for missing out on the factory Yamaha opportunity in 2013, and couldn’t say no to the offer.
The joy was sadly short lived – as it became apparent that the Yamaha became a highly sophisticated bike which only Quartararo could ride to its full potential. Hopes for a championship fight turned into agony for Dovi, as he would struggle to score points at all in each race along with fellow factory Yamaha rider Morbidelli, who finished as the 2020 season runner-up on a Yamaha. The struggles were too much for the Italian, and he would eventually announce that he intended to retire after his last home grand prix at Misano, with former Tech3 and Ducati teammate Cal Crutchlow taking over for the remainder of the 2022 season.
Dovi’s career seemed to be a roller coaster of success and struggle, and it definitely would have been a lot nicer to retire on a high. But there is no shame in struggling as long as you give your best, which is exactly what Dovi did, no matter the struggles he faced. At the end, he rode an incredible career with a splendid record of 24 wins, 103 podiums, 20 poles, and a world championship. Not many people could say they’ve won a grand prix race, let alone a world championship regardless of its category. Not many people can say they’ve battled alongside the best riders in the world. Andrea Dovizioso deserves nothing but respect for his career and the marks he left on the track, and it is safe to say that it will be no surprise if he earns the status of a MotoGP Legend in the future.
Ciao Andrea, grazie mille.