Is three better than one? Depends how you arrange them. This was Ducati’s dilemma, in the Italian marque’s MotoGP fight against Honda.
Genius-level Marc Marquez (26) heads the Honda assault, with five championship wins in the past six seasons, and it’s basically a one-man show for the full-factory RC213V machines. New team-mate Jorge Lorenzo is struggling against injury to find form; satellite teamster Cal Crutchlow is fast, but his results erratic.
Ducati’s standard-bearer Andrea Dovizioso (33), second for the past two years, is a steady challenger; but new team-mate Danilo Petrucci (28) is now a close third, and since his first win in Italy four races ago has heavily outpointed Dovi … enough to convince Ducati to extend his contract for 2020, keeping the same line-up.
This was at the expense of strong candidate Jack Miller. At 24, the satellite Pramac team rider is the youngest of the factory-bike trio, and the works-team seat was a shoot-out between him and Petrucci. Next year, Miller will again be third in line for the latest updates.
Ducati still have three strong riders, up against one on a Honda.
Should Marquez falter, perhaps through injury, Ducati would seem to have their chance for a first crown since Casey Stoner’s in 2007.
But the risk is the trio taking points away from one another. Petrucci’s Mugello win came after a hard last-lap pass on Doviziosio that knocked the older rider down to a costly third place behind Marquez.
Three against one isn’t always a foregone conclusion.