Last Sunday, as happened the previous one, a consolation awaited
Andrea Dovizioso on the screens of his garage, one that sweetened the worst race of his life at Misano, one that hid the despair over his Ducati: he was still the leader of the MotoGP World Championship. After the first seven races of this season, which will only have 14, the Italian keeps his window almost empty – a third place in Qatar and a victory in Spielberg – and despite this he commands in the rarest championship ever.
What does it matter that he is one step away from retirement after arguing with all his bosses, what difference does it make that the Desmosedici is no longer the spark it was: no one is capable of surpassing Dovizioso. Why? “I don't understand it. Qualifying makes me laugh because I don't understand that I was going so slowly first,” acknowledged the rider himself in disbelief that runs through the entire paddock.
In the year of
Marc Márquez's absence, when Dovizioso, Maverick Viñales, Valentino Rossi or Álex Rins have a unique opportunity, no one has achieved the excellent or even the notable and, what's more, several riders fail. At this point, each course there are several drivers above 100 points and this Dovizioso stands out with only 84. There have been six winners for seven races, no candidate has climbed more than three times to the podium and if he won this Sunday in Montmeló (14.00 hours, DAZN), the eighth classified, Miguel Oliveira , could be the leader.
Asked about the reasons, the protagonists name the insecurity of Michelin tires or problems with their own motorcycles – such as the unreliability of the Yamaha engine – but no one dares to point towards the great void. Without Márquez, the attitude of the rest has changed: they are more tense, more erratic, very different.
Márquez himself, still sore from his humerus injury, visiting Montmeló on Thursday, analyzed the situation like this: “In the video calls we make in the team we joke because it seems that nobody wants to win this World Cup. I expected more from many riders, But it is very different to be pursued than to be the pursuer. When you are pursued and you know that you have to win, you have many doubts, you have a lot to lose and you don't ride the same. It happened to me. In 2015, when I was already a favorite, It was difficult for me to accept that role change, “explained Márquez, naming his only year in MotoGP that accepts the comparison.
Only in that 2015 of the constant falls, Márquez was below 84 points after the first seven races. In his other six seasons he was already above, in five of them he exceeded 100 points and in some he would already be almost champion: last year, without going any further, he had at this point with 140 points.
Beyond mechanical issues, only psychology endures as a reason for so many mistakes among future champions and it is precisely in that branch of sports preparation where the World Cup is limping. Very few pilots admit to working their minds with a professional and most give themselves to gas as their only need.
“And it is clear that it could help them a lot. To reach their maximum performance, the drivers need to flow, have a lot of stability, feel free of pressure and hence the results this year. There are many errors, a lot of irregularity because many think that this is their moment and that grips them, “says
Jesús Casado , a pilot psychologist like Julián Simón. As he analyzes, the results of Maverick Viñales, intractable in training and fearful in the race, may be the last demonstration of the effects of extra tension and his evolution in the second part of the season will be interesting.
Because the anomaly experienced so far could be redirected before the end of the year. Viñales' victory last Sunday at Misano indicates that he has already solved his problems, Dovizioso has promised some improvement due to Ducati's “good work”; and the young Quartararo and Mir could animate the fight for the title as they remembered this Friday in training. The clumsiest World Cup could turn into the most exciting. The only thing missing is that their aspirants know how to win under the shadow of Márquez.