Mugello: Raising a Glass to the Realists

So who called it? If you did, I hope you used your foresight to put on a very large bet ahead of the Italian GP. With the weather seeming more predictable, the Yamaha having often destroyed the field at the track for years and Le Mans having given us a last lap show, it seemed we could call what was going to happen at Mugello. Obviously Rossi and Viñales were going to duel it out again and obviously this time the ‘Doctor’ wouldn’t fall off. Right?

Wrong, again.

First, Valentino. There are people who doubt his words on struggles that turn into Sunday miracles – but this time it wasn’t a Press Conference quote or a bad position in practice that had everyone wondering about what kind of weekend Rossi would have, it was a motocross crash.

- Alex Marquez #73 - Thomas Luthi #12 - Mattia Pasini #54 - Moto2 - Autodromo del Mugello - 2017 -

How bad was it really? How much did the circuit promoters need to panic? After qualifying second and coming fourth, it may all seem overblown now – but some things you can’t deny. No one stays in hospital overnight if they don’t need to, and no one has to be passed fit to race if they don’t need to be. So we can gather that the ride he put in was extremely impressive – and will have licked some wounds after Le Mans, still coming home close to the win despite the injury.

Then Viñales, who maybe had the advantage - with the data from the man who has often ruled Mugello, and the bike that has done the same, as well as going into it fully fit. But riding behind enemy lines, keeping calm and taking second “thinking of the Championship” is a good weekend.

It was a little eclipsed, however, by those around him on the podium.

Petrucci, first, who had never had a podium in the dry – just as the winner of the race had never taken a victory in the dry. Getting into P4 was impressive, but a mistake would have been so easy. Reminding himself it was his home GP and he therefore had to try, try he did. A man on a mission, overcoming what seemed like very skewed odds – just like Dovizioso, and with a huge amount of congratulations for him. Just like Dovizioso.

So why is it so great that ‘DesmoDovi’ won? Chiefly, because Dovizioso is one of the riders on the grid who is human. He’s not one of those to have defined the limit of the sport, he’s never disappeared into the distance – he’s a very good rider with a lot of experience, and works hard to maximize his talent. That’s not to do him a disservice, quite the opposite.

- Tito Rabat #53 - EG 0,0 MarcVDS - MotoGP - 2017

“People say I’m negative, but I would call it realistic” – that’s what he said about his attitude, and that’s the best thing about his win.

Dovizioso is a realistic example, for the rest of us who weren’t born superhuman. He’s a guy with talent who has achieved his success the hard way – just climbing each rung one at a time. He’s more a normal guy, although a little less than Petrucci. Dovi also woke up at 4am on race day and was violently sick, missing Warm Up because of it.

So what got him to the end of the race first, realistically? Being prepared on-track aside, he just refused to be stopped by feeling less than 100%. And that’s a great thing to see. Of course we want to see Marquez, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi and Viñales fighting at the front together – they’re some of the best riders ever to have raced. But sometimes, it’s great to see something a little different.

Everyone loves an underdog. And maybe that’s not really the word for Dovizioso, because Ducati have manpower, money and have used plenty of time to get to where they are now, but it’s a similar sentiment. So let’s raise a glass to the realists – for a few days at least – before the Catalan GP reshuffles the deck again.

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