Andrea Dovizioso began 2019 exactly as he did 2018, beating the master in the final metres of the race. Marc Marquez was once again Dovizioso's closest rival at Losail, the duel continuing right to the line.
Marquez repeatedly said that this is not one of his tracks and that the Honda struggles, but it's clear that the bike's engine power has increased and that he was joined on the podium by another Honda rider in the shape of Cal Crutchlow. Considering that Lorenzo was not fully fit, this proves just how effective Dovizioso's strategy was, as he wins a key race and begins the season in the best possible way.
With this win, you now tie with Max Biaggi as the third most successful Italian in the reigning class, behind Agostini and Rossi.
“A response to those who didn't believe in me. I don't race for the stats, but they help you see that you're one of the top riders”.
It's great to beat Marquez like this, in a real head to head.
“It's always nice to beat Marc like this, anyone in fact, in a head to head. It's great to start the season in this way. Even more so because we were not in good shape prior to the weekend. I didn't have good feeling but we had some ideas which worked well and in the week before the test and the race, we understood that we needed to make changes. That's normal, you have to work on many things in a factory team, trying to continuously improve the bike. We improved a lot over the weekend and that's not easy to do in Qatar, because you ride in daylight, then at night, then there's wind. Working well over the weekend made the difference”.
Is this a better win than that of last year?
"I think Marc was stronger in this race than in that of 2018. But he's not worried, he knows the changes that have been made to the bike and they have to situation under control. I'm not worried though, there's no point".
The Honda seems stronger, the engine at the level of the Ducati.
“It's too soon to say, let's say the Honda has more power and that's an advantage for them, an area in which they were losing, but I want to see how they go at other tracks. The fact they accelerate better is not necessarily an advantage, in that it can create other problems. Marc was in trouble with the rear tyre in the race. You cannot fully understand how the season will go by only looking at Qatar, we need to wait until at least Le Mans”.
Where does the Desmosedici need improvement?
"Mid-turn, we are slower there and it could be our Achilles heel at certain tracks. The point is that when Marc is in difficulty, he still reaches the podium, while we finish 5th or 6th, which means losing many points. That can't happen if we want to fight for the title. The playing field is not yet clear, but my impression is that all the bikes are closer: look at Valentino, he finished 5th but only six tenths behind me. Being quick over one lap means nothing, you have to prepare correctly for the race".
Some thought you were holding back during testing, was that the case?
"Those who were in the garage during the test couldn't have imagined we'd run a race like this. I came here with bad sensations and with no base from which to begin. In four sessions, we solved our problems, coming together and working calmly. That's key".