When Andrea Dovizioso was wiped out of second - by his own team-mate - within sight of the finish in Argentina, he probably thought he'd endured his bad luck for the season.

But just a week later, the Ducati star was again punted out of a rostrum place by another rider.

This time, the unlikely assailant was Dani Pedrosa, who lost control of his Honda under braking for the steep first turn at the Circuit of the Americas. The Spaniard fell from his bucking machine, which then torpedoed straight into the side of Dovizioso.

"It was a very hard hit. Wow. I was lucky because it can be worse," said Dovizioso, speaking in the paddock on Sunday evening. "I have some pain but nothing really bad."

Pedrosa offered his apologies to Dovizioso, both at the side of the track and once Dovizioso had returned to the Ducati pits.

"I know Dani for many years. Dani is not a rider who takes many risks normally," Dovizioso said. "Everybody is on the limit. Mistakes can happen. But Dani is not a kamikaze, trying to overtake you every time on the brakes. When somebody makes a mistake and it creates a problem for another rider, it's bad. But it's different compared to Argentina."

Dovizioso added that he had missed his own braking point a little going into the corner, which may have been a factor.

"I didn't see what happened but it was quite easy to analyse, because there is a 'jump' and if you arrive with too much pressure on the brake it's easy to lose the front. I braked too late and was a little bit long and I think Dani wasn't focussed. I think he followed me and braked too late. I think he didn't react very fast and it was too late to try to recover."

All of which means that after three rounds, Dovizioso's only finish is runner-up in the Qatar season opener.

"It's very bad what happened because we can fight for the podium with Lorenzo. Looking at the positives, at three very difficult and different races we were always fighting for the podium. Even if we are not the fastest in practice, we are there in the races.

"Still my feeling with the bike is not 100% to really fight for victory, but I'm so happy to have the possibility to fight for the podium every race. In all three races I think I did the perfect strategy. It's not my fault what happened! I can't manage [the accidents]."

Although Lorenzo's move to Ducati is yet to officially announced, it is now assumed that Dovizioso and Iannone - who inherited third after the Dovizioso/Pedrosa incident - are fighting over the remaining 2017 factory seat.

Dovizioso has said his future will be decided by results, but the bad luck means on paper he is now just seven points ahead of Iannone.

"First I don't think Ducati have to decide the future of the riders just about the points. Second I think can be intelligent from Ducati if they analyse every rider and try to understand what they [Ducati] need for the future, not just about speed and results. And in any case, in the first three races I would have been 'on' the podium and have been always fast. So about that, I'm relaxed."

By Peter McLaren


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