“I might be the one that crashes all the time but at the end I am the fastest and strongest on this bike”. The man proclaiming these bold statements is Andrea Iannone; he could say it louder, but he couldn’t be any clearer.
The quote from the Italian rider is an arrow aimed directly at Ducati, which also points at Andrea Dovizioso, Iannone’s teammate and the rider elected by Ducati Corse management to stay when the three time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo arrives to the Ducati garage in 2017.
As you likely already know, once the official announcement regarding Lorenzo was made, Ducati also communicated that they would elect between the two Andreas who would stay on the team alongside the Spanish rider and who would be dismissed. The decision was supposed to be made following the Italian GP in Mugello, Ducati’s most important of the year, but for unknown reasons it was announced ahead of the race: Andrea Dovizioso would be the rider who stayed.
Iannone’s disappointment was obviously great, especially because he feels he is the faster of the two. After four years at Ducati, having finished 5th last season, he felt he deserved more confidence from the heads of the Italian brand. His “official statement”, however, sounds different. “The last four years at Ducati have been amazing, I felt really valued. I have had great support since starting with the Pramac Team. I had the opportunity to grow with the Pramac team. Those were two really good years; it’s been a really nice and positive journey. There’s always a bit of discomfort; it’s then when you try to understand what is best for you, not for those around you. If you want to get results you have to stop and consider what’s going to help you reach your goals in the future. That’s why I’m very happy with the choice I made but for me, it’s very important to finish with Ducati in a good position, we are all trying our best.”
“The way I ride now is too tiring at the moment; I think we need an easier bike that allows us to go fast without getting exhausted”.
We held this chat with Andrea during the Dutch GP weekend, a race where the Ducatis showed to be tremendously effective despite a not too positive end result. “The way I ride now is too tiring at the moment. In MotoGP, you cannot be using all your strength during the 26 laps of a race. I think we need an easier bike that allows us to go fast without getting exhausted. This is the main problem, the bike is too difficult when it comes to change directions, too heavy.”
Iannone’s 8th position in the championship standing close to mid-season doesn’t demonstrate his protagonism, not at all. In fact, Andrea has been an important topic in more than one GP, although not always in the way a rider wants to be. At the opening race in Qatar, he crashed in the 4th lap after a breathtaking but unnecessary battle with Dovizioso; at the following GP in Argentina, he crashed two turns from the finish line while fighting for the podium, again with teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who he also knocked down. What would have been a historic result for Ducati ended in disaster due to Iannone’s aggressive riding against his teammate.
These episodes sparked Ducati’s establishing an internal protocol which dictated their riders’ behavior in cases where they met on the track during the race. However Iannone’s next incident didn’t occur with teammate but with Jorge Lorenzo, who he knocked down in Barcelona after riding into him. He was punished for this maneuver by Race Direction and forced to start from the back of the grid regardless of his qualifying position. Thus, Iannone’s season has been all but standard. “Yes, we had a lot to work on the Ducati to keep improving, but it would have also helped if we had made fewer mistakes.”
“A change was necessary; the opportunity came and I decided it was the moment to make a decision” Iannone about his move to Suzuki.
“Ducati is not an easy bike. From the outside, I might be the one that crashes all the time but in the end I am the fastest and strongest on this bike. The Ducati looks great because I am riding it, it’s me that makes the difference. Actually I don´t know if I’m able to do better but at the moment, a change was necessary, we’ve been here four years but we’ve always had some problem. The opportunity to make a change came and I thought it was a positive move and I decided it was the moment to make a decision… After some years, you need a change.” If we didn’t know otherwise, Iannone’s sound as if he made the decision to leave Ducati.
At Suzuki, Andrea expects to find a competitive bike and the status of being the nº1 rider on the team, a status that Ducati denied him. “I don’t know what to expect; I imagine myself in blue because that’s the colour of the team,” he jokes when asked about his expectations for next year. Then, getting serious he adds: “I believe we can bring my will to win, which has pros and cons. When you want to win so badly you don’t always manage situations as you should but I think working together we will be able to achieve lots… Suzuki is doing well, they have made a huge step.”
“Alex Rins is young and strong and I think he will be able to improve quickly… I hope not to quickly!!”
As mentioned, on the Suzuki squad Iannone will clearly become the A rider. Instead of having a veteran rider like Andrea Dovizioso on the other side of the garage, there will be a MotoGP rookie, Spaniard Alex Rins. “He is young, strong and Suzuki has made the right decision bringing him to MotoGP. We spoke about it when I signed with them…And for the future? I think he’ll become a good rider; the bike is at a really good point, better than when Maverick arrived to Suzuki, the bike is more competitive and he will have me as a teammate with four years of experience in MotoGP where I have improved a lot. He’s coming from Moto2 and will be able to improve quickly. I hope not too quickly! I think it will be one of the best MotoGP teams of the season.”
Iannone/Dovizioso 2016 Season Performance Comparison
|Rider||Qat||Arg||Tex||Spa||Fra||Ita||Cat||Neth||Champ Standing & Points|
|Dovizioso||6/2||5/ 13||6/NC||4/NC||5/NC||13/5||10/7||1/NC||11 & 43|
|Iannone||4/NC||6/NC||7/3||11/7||3/NC||3/3||8/NC||9/5||8 & 52|