Andrea Dovizioso says his impending exit from the Ducati MotoGP squad made little difference to his mindset on his way to winning the Austrian grand prix.
The Italian eased to his first win of 2020 by 1.4 seconds over Suzuki’s Joan Mir and Pramac’s Jack Miller having edged away in controlled fashion in the closing stages.
Dovizioso has had a mixed start to his ’20 campaign, having scored a strong third place in the Spanish GP at Jerez before struggling at the next two Andalucian and Czech events with sixth and 11th placed finishes respectively, leaving him fourth in the riders standings-29 points down on leader Fabio Quartararo.
He then announced his departure from the Ducati team he has called home since ’13 prior to qualifying on Saturday morning in Austria following recent criticism from the manufacturer on his race performances, despite having finished runner-up to runaway champion Marc Marquez across the past three seasons.
The 15-time premier class victor says though that his decision to exit the Bologna-based manufacturer had nothing to do with Ducati’s improved competitiveness this weekend, pointing instead to the outfit’s enviable Red Bull Ring record at which they have won every race since ’16.
“That performance didn’t come after that decision (not to continue with Ducati for ’21), we already showed in the past how strong we are at this track so I’m more impressed with the improvement from Brno as this was our focus and we did it,” said Dovizioso following his Austrian GP success.
“For sure the track helped us but we really studied a lot and approached practice in a different way, this was the reason why I’m here (as winner).
Dovizioso admitted that winning the Austrian would have been significantly tougher had Alex Rins not crashed out while trying to snatch the lead away from him at the mid-way point of the contest, the Suzuki man having looked to have had a several tenth per-lap advantage over the leading Ducati machines at that point in the encounter.
“When they put out the red flag the feeling was good.
“I put myself in a good position, but I expected after the restart for Pol (Espargaro) to be a bit stronger, and I didn’t expect Rins to be so strong as in the first part he wasn’t that good, but ahead of the race I expected Rins so in the second part this became the reality.
“I think if Rins hadn’t crashed it would have been very difficult to beat him because I was struggling a little bit but in some braking zones I was so good and I was able to make a gap.”
Dovizioso exercised caution on a potential title charge following his victory though, the Italian keen to see how the Desmosedici fares against the weapons from Yamaha and Suzuki when the MotoGP circus moves away from one of its strongest venues.
“No, I think we have to wait and see how we do on different tracks,” added Dovizioso.
“The feeling I have with the bike is still not that good to be there at other tracks, I’m still not comfortable enough on corner exit to compete against Suzuki and Yamaha, I think we need to be a bit stronger.
“We have to make a step but now we have to take this good result and fortunately we have another race at this track, but we have to do another small step here as well because Rins will be very strong in the second round.”