On Sunday evening, Andrea Dovizioso could only offer an apology to his team and Ducati after a costly crash out of the lead when “pushing 80%” deprived him of showing his “amazing” pace in a MotoGP race he had designs on winning.

Feeling confident and comfortable after promising showings in Saturday’s FP4 and Sunday’s morning warm-up, the 2017 runner up went for the jugular in the early exchanges of the French Grand Prix, passing Johann Zarco at turn six before moving by team-mate Jorge Lorenzo expertly at turn three on lap five.

But Dovizioso was no longer in the lead and contemplating the open tarmac ahead when he misjudged his braking for the downhill La Chapelle right. Having run slightly wide, the Italian was determined to hold his lead, attack from the front, and maintain one rider between his GP18 and the ever-aggressive Zarco.

Correcting his line with the rear brake would be his undoing, his front soon tucking at speed. The result was a second non-score on the bounce, two races in which championship rival Marc Marquez collected the 50-point maximum. “It’s bad,” he conceded. “Really bad,” when considering the 49-point deficit to Marquez, now a clear leader in first.

“Today wasn’t aggressive,” said Dovizioso. “I wasn’t pushing at that moment. I was just a little bit slower in that brake and I didn’t take care enough and I lose the front. I wasn’t pushing. To do that lap time in the race for me, I was pushing 80%. I wasn’t pushing.

“That’s why I’m disappointed. It’s hard for me to pass this for that reason. If you are pushing 100% and you want to get a proper result, it can happen. But when it happens when you don’t push, is bad.

“My strategy, it was to go away of Zarco, not to be aggressive. Because Zarco already did in turn two something close to the limit, and I lose three positions. After that, he almost hit Jorge in turn seven. I saw him lose two or three times the rear and bump in the rear. So he was a little too excited, I don’t know.

“So that’s why. When I saw the door, I overtake him, and I overtake after two laps Jorge immediately. Also because it’s very difficult to overtake Jorge in this moment because he’s braking very hard and he stop in the middle of the corner. I overtake him in the fast corner quite wide. It was the only point where for me it was easy to do. I think there isn’t another reason, unfortunately.”

Reflecting on the costly crash that sees him drop to ninth in the championship, Dovizioso continued: “I brake a little bit late. I was a little bit out, so that I tried to make a slide on the rear and move a little bit the weight on the front. But the movement, I did two movements and come back.

“When I came back all the weight went to the front. That’s why. In that point, I didn’t take care enough to lose the front, because it happened in the practice and I didn’t expect that. The reason is in the race there is always less grip than the practice, always.

“But I still didn’t push until that point, because I was so comfortable. I had a really good speed. I didn’t put the front really on the limit until that moment. So I didn’t realise there was less grip than the practice. I didn’t care too much in that point. That’s why this happened.”

And what of his championship chances, already hanging by a thread with Marquez in the form of his career? “It’s bad, really bad. 49 points to Marc is very bad. I think he’s really good to manage every situation, so this is the negative point of today.

“Is bad, but as you see from the first round to now, everything can happen in every race. The really important thing is our speed, in Jerez and here, where last year it was very far. We did a really great job. I’m so happy about the feeling I have with the bike.

“Today for sure I was able to fight with Marc. Maybe I have a chance to make a gap also to Marc. That’s why I’m very disappointed. And I'm very sorry to the team, I want to say sorry to them. They did a great job this weekend.

“We started in a good position with a good speed. During the weekend we improved the bike, and our pace was amazing. I’m very sorry to the engineers at home because this is something that don’t have to happen.”



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