Trackside Tuesday: A Tale of Two Teammates

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If you were writing a script for a blockbuster movie based on MotoGP, you would be off to a great start with a premise centered on Tech 3’s current riders: Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso. This current season would be the backstory, perhaps told in flashbacks or in a montage behind the opening titles. Next season is where the drama would unfold in earnest, as each character pursues a World Championship on a different team.

But perhaps there’s too much backstory to fit into the opening credit sequence. In 2012, on nearly identical equipment, they battled for “Best of The Rest” over and over again. Silly season saw each one looking for a chance to move to a factory bike, as each felt a satellite machine was incapable of winning a world title. One rider is courted by Ducati, then abandoned in favor of the other. This leaves one right where he started, but ironically, on a satellite Yamaha that will likely have better results than his rival, who has landed the factory ride both sought.

The story thus becomes a classic “pride cometh before the fall” tale of one who thinks he can slay the dragon that has vanquished others more successful than he. Or else it becomes Rocky, and Dovizioso is the Italian Stallion winning against Hollywood-esque odds on a Ducati. If the former, and Crutchlow continues to claim the occasional podium on his way to another solid season, while Dovi joins the list of rider who are not Casey Stoner.

And as such, both characters might refine their opinions that one needs not any factory bike, but the right factory bike to win a MotoGP Championship. If the latter, and Andrea Dovizioso — the man who won only one race during his three years on a factory Honda — manages to duplicate Stoner’s feat of bringing Ducati a World Championship, then you’ve really got something story-wise.

One must admire this kind of confidence. Marco Melandri (2nd to Rossi in 2005): 0 victories on a Ducati. Nicky Hayden (2006 World Champion): 0 victories on a Ducati. Valentino Rossi (Duh): 0 victories on a Ducati. But to Dovizioso, the GP13 gives him a better chance to be world champ than the Tech 3 Yamaha. And let’s not forget that Crutchlow was ready to take that same gamble.

This belief that one can do better than Melandri, Hayden and Rossi — none of whom has been able to win a title or even a single race — is remarkable, and it offers some true insight into the minds of athletes who compete at this level. Let’s give Dovi credit: he did come from Honda to Yamaha and get an unfamiliar bike sorted in a hurry. Cal is having a fantastic season himself, and a factory Yamaha might make that small difference between a fantastic season and a championship.

But perhaps in the backs of their minds nags the fact that Casey did win races, and did win a title on a Ducati. Can Casey really be that much better than they are? You don’t reach the high country without total confidence in your abilities. And the results of that confidence can make for riveting drama, indeed. Let’s hope that 2013’s drama is not of the tragic variety.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved