Danilo Petrucci has praised Andrea Dovizioso’s ability to maintain his speed over race distance by managing the throttle of the Ducati GP17 in such a way that his tyres are sufficiently conserved for that all-important late push.

Dovizioso has caught many by surprise by not only leading the championship after twelve races, but by consistently out-performing his more decorate team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in all-but one of the twelve races (Jerez) in the 2017 season.

Each of his four race wins, at Mugello, Montmeló, the Red Bull Ring, and Silverstone have shown Dovizioso to be more adept in close combat situations than previous years, and, crucially, wily at managing the race around him, to ensure he is as well prepared as can be in the final laps.

This year has been Petrucci’s first opportunity to analyse Dovizioso’s performance from a near identical point of reference, as the Pramac Ducati man has a full 2017 factory machine at his disposal.

And while the ex-European Superstock race winner, who hails from Terni, doesn’t believe Dovizioso’s outright speed far exceeds his, he admits there is still much to learn from his fellow Italian to ensure his tyre is not as worn as the laps tick by.

Asked whether his countryman’s speed this year had come as a surprise, Petrucci responded, “I am a bit surprised, but not about the speed: more about Dovi’s consistency.

“For sure the bike has improved but he’s stronger than before, especially using the bike. He’s not really much, much faster than me, but he can use the bike in a more similar way for all the race distance.

“At the moment, for me, it’s not possible, especially in the second part of the race. The traction area for me is still bad for my lap time. Riding in this way means that I use more tyre. For sure, I wear it more than Dovi. These two things affect me and also the tyre consumption at the end of the race.

“He’s not using any secret in the data. He’s only very, very smooth on the throttle. He understands where and when the tyre is sliding too much and in this way he saves the tyre for the last part of the race and he’s been able to be faster.”

Petrucci wasn’t keen to overplay his role in Ducati’s recent success. At the beginning of the year, the 26-year old was very much a development rider for the GP17, and found his track time at preseason tests was much reduced as a result.

So does Petrucci feel part of Dovizioso’s run of results is, in part, down to some of his work? “For sure sometimes I used something that then Dovi used in the next race,” he said. “So I don’t know if I help him in some cases. But the most important thing is that we ride in a similar way and we need more or less the same things.

“For us it’s important to push each other. I watched more the data of Dovizioso than Dovizioso did with mine because we ride really similar. I don’t know if I have been useful to Dovi but I hope so!”

Not only has Dovizioso’s throttle use worked when conserving Michelin rubber; it was also a critical feature in his all-action run to the 25 points in Austria.

As Lorenzo changed fuel maps early on to conserve fuel around the power-heavy track, the Majorcan had to contend with a much reduced top speed for the remainder of the race, leaving him powerless to stay with Dovizioso, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.

Dovizioso, on the other hand, never once changed maps. His managing of the rear tyre was such that he was not using the full potential of the GP17 in the laps leading up to the finish. And that despite being firmly locked in a frantic scrap with Marquez.

Looking back on that race, Lorenzo pointed to Dovizioso’s method of opening the throttle as key. “I have a different riding style,” said the Majorcan of the Austrian encounter. “Dovizioso has a different way to open the throttle, and probably with his way, he consumes a little bit less fuel.

“So this is something I must study to improve. Also he stayed some laps behind Márquez, so when you are in somebody's slipstream, he used the slipstream to save a little bit the fuel, I was alone probably all the race, so this for sure affected it. But also it's true that he has a different way of using the throttle that I must learn.”

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