MotoGP™ Legend Andrea Dovizioso discussed several topics relating to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship when he visited the iconic EICMA show recently. From the ‘Titanic Trio’ battling hard throughout 2023, huge changes in the 2024 rider line-up with Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu moving manufacturers, and Andrea Iannone’s return to action. He also expanded on how he thinks Michael Ruben Rinaldi will get on following his switch to Motocorsa Racing, providing insight into his mentality ahead of a return to an Independent team.
ENDING THE YEAR WITH EPIC SCRAPS: Dovizioso on the ‘Titanic Trio’
The 15-time MotoGP™ race winner reflected on the end of the year, which featured some incredible battles between Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Razgatlioglu when he raced for the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK team, with the pair notably having incredible battles at Portimao and Jerez to conclude the season, which the Italian reacted to. He also spoke about Jonathan Rea and Razgatlioglu’s respective switches to Yamaha and BMW respectively as they look to stop Bautista’s incredible run of success.
On the ‘Titanic Trio’, the fights and their futures, Dovizioso said: “It was very strange and weird because to see two opposite riders battling, it was very difficult. Opposite because the bikes were very different, and the riding style was very different. So, to see that battle was very strange in my opinion. The battle was between two big talents. It was nice. I’m happy for Alvaro because I know him very well, how good he is, and I think he’s been one of the top riders in MotoGP™ with his riding style. I’ve never battled with Toprak, but I think he’s so talented. I like him as a person. I don’t know a lot about him, but I spoke with him, and he seems like a nice person. I think, with BMW, in two years, Toprak can change the situation a bit and become competitive with BMW. I want to Rea do well with Yamaha. I don’t know if Jerez was a real test because Yamaha did very well during the round. I don’t know if that bike works well at that track. I think he has to try it at a different track to understand the real potential of the Yamaha. I think they have to work a bit to really step up and battle with Ducati.”
MAKING THE SWITCH: discussing Rea’s Yamaha move and Razgatlioglu’s BMW transfer
‘Dovi’ is no stranger to switching between bikes through his MotoGP™ career, having raced with Honda between 2008 and 2011, Yamaha in 2012 and 2021-22 and Ducati between 2013 and 2020. He’s one rider who can give his thoughts on the huge changes on the 2024 WorldSBK grid, with four factory teams having a change in their line-up.
Dovizioso said: “They have to do this. Rea with Kawasaki, there wasn’t the feeling anymore. I don’t know how competitive the bike is, but the feeling wasn’t that good like in the past for Rea to battle for the Championship, so he needed a change. Even with Toprak, I think the situation was comfortable at Yamaha but, with him, he needed to change because he needed a bit more support. I don’t know if BMW will be good enough to really step up and fight for the Championship, but they have a good organisation to push. If it works, I don’t know. We will see in the future. The change has been good for everybody.”
IANNONE’S RETURN: “I think everybody knows his talent”
One of the key topics heading into 2024 is Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven). ‘The Maniac’ has been on track with his Independent Panigale V4 R at Jerez, when he showed strong pace immediately, and the interest now is to see how fast he is with more tests and mileage under his belt before the season-opening Australian Round. Having raced against the #29 in MotoGP™, the three-time MotoGP™ World Championship runner-up gave his thoughts on Iannone’s return to action.
Explaining why he thinks it could be difficult but that he wouldn’t be shocked if he was quick, Dovizioso said: “I think it’s good for the Championship. I think everybody knows his talent so I wouldn’t be surprised if he is very fast. To stay at the front and battle to be on top, it’ll be difficult because the level is high, and I don’t know how difficult it is to come back after four years. I’m interested to see how he does.”
RINALDI BACK AT AN INDEPENDENT TEAM: pressure off means a chance to thrive?
‘Dovi’ is good friends with five-time race winner Rinaldi, with the #21 often speaking about how his friend has helped him with training. At EICMA, the MotoGP™ Legend discussed how Rinaldi’s move to the Independent outfit could prove beneficial for him and outlined what he believes the Italian will be able to achieve in 2024 with the pressure off as he’s no longer in the factory team.
When asked whether less pressure could help Rinaldi, the 2004 125cc World Champion said: “That’s for sure. Rinaldi’s problem was Alvaro. He was so strong, and I know Michael, and I know what it means to be in the factory team. Like every Independent rider thinks, the factory team gives you the possibility to win. On one side yes but it’s not reality. Michael realised that. I think he will have a chance next year to stay at the top because he will have the same situation as the factory bike, or similar, so if he approaches the season in a relaxed way, which is difficult, he can be in the top five every week.”
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