Andrea Dovizioso has a mountain to climb in front of him, a steep wall with very few holds to cling to. And, even Marquez's summit is a little closer after the GP in Austria, it still remains shrouded in clouds and perhaps time won't be enough to reach it. Planting your own flag at the top means winning the world title, and Marc has a clear advantage.
At the Red Bull Ring, Dovi showed that Marquez can be beaten, even if with lots of effort and on a friendly track. A victory was what was needed for the red pit-box after a few weekends to recover, but it's undeniable that Pirro is likely to be the classic success (and the likeable Ducati test rider has nothing to do with that here). A battle that doesn't change the outcome of the war.
The Spanish rider said it well when he observed that, after all, he only lost by a handful of tenths in a circuit where he had never won and that his advantage remains substantial. To be precise, 58 points, enough to stay on vacation until Aragon and return to the track again in front of everyone, whatever might happen. However, since the best holidays for Marquez are those on a bike, 58 points mean being able to afford to finish the next 8 Grand Prix with 4 seconds and as many third places and still become champion once again, even if Andrea wins them all.
For any other rider to get such a high number of podiums would be a feat, too bad that Marquez this year, apart from Austin where he fell, has always climbed onto one of the two highest steps. 4 seconds, and as many third places, would represent a decline on his road map for him.
So, Dovizioso simply has to aim for the max and hope that his opponent makes some mistake or that Honda doesn't go well on the upcoming circuits.
On paper, the last part of the season is not as critical for Andrea and Ducati. In the past, the Italian couple won at Silverstone, Misano, Japan, Malaysia, and Valencia; last year at Aragon and Thailand they ended second, and the only nightmare remains Phillip Island, despite the 2018 podium.
The real problem is that Marquez's resume is still better, since, in his career, he has won on all the tracks that remain from here until the end of the year. Last year he won 4 out of 7 (Silverstone was canceled) and, in 2017, 3 out of 7 (Butriram was not yet on the calendar). In short, he seems to be holding all the right cards.
In truth, at this point, we should speak of the typical swing vote of the rider who, with his rankings, can help one or the other contender. The problem is that one doesn't seem to exist. In all the GPs held so far, there has never been a third wheel to take away points from Marc, while it happened more often for Dovizioso.
Andrea should be able to count on Danilo Petrucci, but the rider from Terni is not experiencing the best moment of the season. While, when Marc is at his best, he wins by outdistancing but, when things go bad, he comes in second.
Popular wisdom states that hope is the last to die and, if a rider thought he'd be defeated, he wouldn't even pack his bags to go to the circuit. At the Red Bull Ring, Dovizioso showed he also knows how to dance with folly, and he'll need a lot of it to nab Marquez again. Fortune favors the brave, perhaps even fools, hoping that the proverb isn't wrong. We'll find out in a few days at Silverstone.