After announcing he would be leaving Ducati at the end of this season, MotoGP title contender Andrea Dovizioso has continued to play his cards close to his chest as far as 2021.
Aprilia is the only factory team with a potential race seat still available, but if negotiations previously stalled with KTM, could they succeed with Aprilia?
Admittedly the seemingly tentative talks were before the Austrian factory had won its first races, but on paper KTM already had a more competitive bike and more financial firepower than Aprilia.
Instead, it seems that Dovizioso is leaning towards a factory test riding role, perhaps with wild-card race options and the possibility of a 2022 full-time ride.
Asked on Thursday about comments by five-time 500cc world champion Mick Doohan – who said Dovizioso would be a valuable asset as a test rider, capable of replicating Dani Pedrosa‘s level of contribution to KTM – Dovizioso confirmed that he is in talks with multiple manufacturers about such a role:
“Yes, I’m really happy about [those comments], but I think if you take also some other riders with good experience, [for example] Valentino or me, if you are able to have them as a test rider, it’s the best for every manufacturer.
“So I think it’s an advantage for every manufacturer in this situation, and it’s the reason why I am speaking with more than one… I think it’s good option for a lot of manufacturers. So I’m really happy to be in this condition, I’m speaking with them, and we will see my future.”
Given the door is closed at Ducati, that an Aprilia test role is unlikely when there is a race seat open and assuming Pedrosa continues at KTM and Lorenzo at Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki would be left as possible options for Dovizioso on paper.
If a testing deal does materialise, the factory in question could yet be hiring the services of a reigning world champion.
Dovizioso starts the final five rounds – beginning this weekend at Aragon – holding third in the standings, 18 points from leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha).
“Like every weekend I don’t know [what to expect] because with the new [tyre] casing, I’m really interested to see the exit of the corner will be like. Normally with this tyre, it’s very difficult to manage the first part of the exit. So it will be very important to be OK in that area,” Dovizioso said
“But overall I think this can be a good track for us, because there is a lot of braking with angle.
“I think and I believe that the Yamaha will be very strong, but I think we can have our cards. In the last two years we showed that. It’s not the best track for us, but in the end, in the last two years, we managed the tyres in a good way, and it helped us to make very good result in the end. But we will see.
“Also the weather conditions, it will be maybe the coldest situation this season, because it will be 3, 4, 5 degrees during the night. In the morning it will be a few more degrees, but not that much, and here like in a few corners it’s difficult to get heat in the tyres and today there is an incredible wind.”