Malaysian GP: So it’s going down to the wire

So it’s going down to the wire. Two men, one race and one Championship. But that’s not all there is to talk about following Sepang.

The first thing to note is the impeccable ride that Andrea Dovizioso put in. After winning his first race since 2009 in Malaysia last year, repeating the feat this season makes it seven wins for the Italian in twelve months. That’s incredible enough in itself, without factoring in the most intense pressure of his career.

Dovizioso, though, almost doesn’t seem to feel it. Marquez, however, seemed to stumble. Not fall – in the race or figuratively – but it was an interesting display from the two. The reigning champion still holds all the cards, of course. 21 points mean Dovi must win the race and Marquez almost fail to score, and the Italian pointed out that Marquez has managed it before, in 2013. But people who remember 2013 will also remember 2006.

- Dovizioso and Lorenzo - Ducati Corse - MotoGP - Malaysian GP - 2017 -

The other point is team orders. Were they/weren’t they? One thing on dashboard messages is that it was the only one shown on TV, not the only one sent. There may have been 45 messages about mapping sent to everyone on the grid. Furthermore, if you’re going to let someone through, you don’t fake a near crash. Not like that, in the rain, when last time you launched yourself at the Misano scenery at a great height. That’s not to say Lorenzo would not have moved over if he’d still been ahead later in the race. Maybe he would, in which case there would have been a scandal, and maybe he wouldn’t – in which case, there would have been a scandal.

What it sounded like from Gigi Dall’Igna and the Press Conference is that the question about team orders was being asked with the dash message in mind but that they were all answering it about Lorenzo not having tried an overtake at the end of the race. Lorenzo said he knew what he needed to do, and said trying a move at the end of the race would have been 90% likely to cause a crash. Dall’Igna said Jorge knew what he needed to do and did it. Maybe what he needed to do was not go for his own glory and risk a crash. Iannone and Argentina were also brought up. That is exactly what Lorenzo could not afford, and it’s what he didn’t do.

Regardless, Ducati wants to win. Team orders are always a touchy subject, and there are good points on both sides. You’re racing to win, but you’re also an employee of a team or factory. You’re fighting in a solo championship, but you do not design, build, maintain and race alone. There are thousands of people directly involved in what Ducati and Dovizioso have achieved this year. The same is true of Marquez and Honda of course, but at Sepang especially, nobody got screwed over. Marquez still has the advantage, it’s just that Dovizioso’s chance has been extended. No one lost. In addition, who believes Pedrosa would put a win above Honda orders?

- MotoGP - Sepang - Malaysian Grand Prix - 2017 -

There is something else, somehow, regardless of who you are a fan of. Ducati, more than many, have truly worked their way from nothing to Championship challengers once again. We respond to these more human elements to the backstory of each situation, and we’ve all watched them going from Champions to struggling to get into the top ten. And now, we’ve watched them climb back up that mountain step by step. We’ve also watched Andrea Dovizioso and Gigi Dall’Igna at the head of that exhibition, rallying the troops and leading the way. That is something that deserves to be rewarded with a chance to take it down to the wire.

“If Marc wins the Championship, it means he was the best,” is what Dovizioso says. And that’s true. But what Ducati and Dovizioso have done is take one of the greatest riders of all time down to the wire – which is something special in itself. So sit back, relax, and get ready to watch another chapter of history written at Valencia.


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