• The champion.Marc Márquez will not race this Sunday and will try to reach the next

Remembering it now requires an effort, but back in February, before the pandemic that changed everything, Andrea Dovizioso promised that this would be his World Cup, this one. After three years as runner-up, he appeared in the preseason tests in a remarkable state of form, enjoying Ducati's latest technical prowess - the holeshot - and with his main rival, Marc Márquez, injured. If the coronavirus hadn't stopped the world, who knows? Perhaps Dovizioso would be the leader of the championship today and, on vacation, would dream of his first MotoGP title. But the reality for the Italian is very, very different.

In yesterday's presentation of the Austrian Grand Prix, the fourth race of this season, the organization did not even invite him to the press conference in a sign of his loss of prominence. Last year he won on this track, the fastest in the World Cup, but the Italian was silent in his garage while young people like Brad Binder , Franco Morbidelli and Miguel Oliveira received the heat of the floodlights. His situation is very strange. With Márquez absent, he could finally dominate the championship, but instead is fourth, 28 points behind leader Fabio Quartararo , and with a dark outlook. The question is obvious: What happened to him?

"That someone find me the person who knows what is happening because I have not found him yet," he claimed a few days ago in Brno in an unusual tone for him. Despite the fact that Dovizioso is known in the paddock for his education and his calm, in recent days he has been heard more complaints than anything else, some even sour: "In this race I had to kick everyone's ass and I'm done eleventh. What do you want me to say? " On the one hand, the technicians blame the Italian's problems on the new Michelin tires and their effect on the Ducati, but Johann Zarco's third place at Brno detracted from their credibility. On the other hand, Dovizioso also arrived in Jerez with an injury to his left clavicle due to a fall during training, but the recovery should now be complete. In reality, everything seems to eradicate the loss of trust between the rider and the brand, the breakdown of a marriage that for several years seemed perfect.

The problems that money causes. Since Valentino Rossi left Ducati in 2012, the Italian company has been in the hands of a Dovizioso who, with a 125cc title and two Moto2 runners-up, promised loyalty and work, loyalty and work. And he fulfilled. Despite the fact that the labyrinth left by the seven-time MotoGP champion was difficult to cross, Dovizioso knew how to give the Ducati engineers the guidelines and in four years they all returned to opt for victory.

In three courses (2017, 2018 and 2019) the pilot was runner-up and this season he sat at the negotiating table with a requirement: he wanted to charge as a runner-up. But Ducati, on the other hand, hit by the pandemic like so many companies, could only offer him a low contract. And all the work was blown up. Dovizioso felt that he was being undervalued to be able to pay a young man like Jack Miller and started an argument that still lasts. Of the agreement, it is assumed, depends the options of the pilot to the title. Although when this one arrives it could already be too late.

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