It certainly wasn't a knock-out blow, but Andrea Dovizioso's MotoGP title hopes look to be on the ropes after again struggling for podium pace - and losing another 13 points to Joan Mir - at Aragon on Sunday.

Having miraculously gained championship ground despite finishing seventh the week before, after tyre problems for previous points leader Fabio Quartararo, Dovizioso's logic told him that Ducati's poor form at least meant they had the biggest potential for improvement at the second event.

But the previous back-to-back rounds served as a warning - Ducati's top result having dropped at the second of the Jerez, Red Bull Ring and Misano rounds, as their rivals made greater gains.

Avintia's Johann Zarco finally broke that pattern with a fifth place on Sunday, but for Dovizioso the race proved more difficult than the weekend before and he stumbled home in 13th place.

Starting just 17th after again failing to progress past Qualifying 1, Dovizioso climbed steadily up the order to 9th place, but began to run wide during a close battle with Aleix Espargaro, suddenly dropping back to 12th.

After using the medium rear tyre last weekend, Dovizioso had joined most of his rivals on the soft, which by now was 'completely finished'. The triple MotoGP title runner-up was then overtaken by HRC test rider Stefan Bradl on the final lap.

"At the beginning, my speed wasn't too bad in the group, but the soft tyre was too soft for everybody and the drop was huge for everybody," Dovizioso said. "But when you ride aggressively and you are not smooth because you are not comfortable, you use more tyre.

"And this is what happened in the race, I completely finished the tyre, I have also arm pump, but this is all the consequence of when you ride in a bad way, and you don't have the feeling."

Might Dovizioso have been better off staying on the medium?

"To say if it's the wrong tyre or right choice, I think it's more related to the way you ride," he explained. "This is a different tyre this year, but in the last two years most of the time we were able to use a softer tyre than the competitors.

"But you are only able to use that if you are able to ride with a good speed and save your tyre. This is not our case.

"But the step from the soft to the medium was big [at Aragon], and almost everybody chose the soft.

"I don't know, maybe with the medium it would be a bit better, but we are speaking about a small thing compared to the [22-second] gap at the end of the race.

"I don't think it's the choice of the tyre that created a bad situation in the race. It's just a consequence."

The other consequence is that Dovizioso has now lost fourth place in the world championship to Sunday's race winner Franco Morbidelli and slipped 28 points behind Mir.

"I don't think that it's the moment to speak about the championship. I don't have any speed to think about the championship," he said.

"Strategy, or what we can do, or how many chances we have, I think in this moment almost zero.

"So I don't think it's really the moment to speak about the championship. Without speed, you can't fight."

The Italian, now approaching the final three rounds of his Ducati career, added:

"I really don't like to ride like this, to race like this, I don't like to fight for these positions. This is really bad, I really don't like it.

"I don't want to be too negative, but at this moment to think about the opposite is difficult."

Team-mate Danilo Petrucci finished in tenth place.

 

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