“For me Dovizioso’s story is a very good story because he has been through difficult times in his career, especially in MotoGP. Everybody can learn from him because he never threw in the towel, never lost the faith, but he believed in himself.” Valentino Rossi on Dovizioso, December 2017
Andrea Dovizioso has always been a talented rider with much potential which was more visible before coming to MotoGP. When he made it to the top class he showed again some potential in the first years, but, as the seasons went by, it seemed Dovi was a good rider, but there was something missing from his arsenal to make him to be a great rider.
The Italian rider was the 125cc Champion in 2004 and in the following three years he was in the top 3 of the 250cc Championship thus moving to MotoGP in 2008. In that first season in MotoGP, he was the second best rookie, not far behind from Jorge Lorenzo. However, in the following years it felt like he was not fulfilling all his potential.
During his first nine years at the top class, Dovi won 2 races only, while, solely on 2017, he racked up 6 wins. Something has to change dramatically for the results to be so different in two distinct periods. And that was, surely, the mental approach.
“Everybody now is working on their body, but your mind is much bigger (…) everyone has a margin to improve in that area. I found something interesting and it’s working – that’s one of the reasons we’re competitive this year.” These are the words which Dovizioso himself uses to explain what changed this season.
His mentality is represented in his helmet with two horses: the white one is the rational and the black one is the irrational. Dr Claudio Costa, who is a famous doctor in the MotoGP world, had an important influence in Dovi’s mentality.
Dovi said that Dr Costa tries to explain everything with the two horses mentioned above and he always complained about Dovi’s excessive rationality. Dr Costa would say: “you have big potential but you’re not using it because you are racing with just your head and you don’t feel a lot!”
The Italian rider admitted that this year he certainly changed his approach and the result was visible. Surely this seems to be the difference in his mental preparation that led to better results. Yet, I believe we can break it down and come up with more than just a rational/emotional duality.
As a matter of fact, Andrea has always been a very humble person, which was noticeable both in his behaviours (on and off track) and in his way of talking. He didn’t changed in this aspect, but he added something which resulted in a magic potion. Ambition is the name of the missing ingredient.
In other words, he is mixing the quality of having a modest view of his importance (humility) with a strong desire to achieve success (ambition). This mix is not so easy to refine since sometimes there is a general public confusion between confidence/ambition and arrogance/cockiness.
Despite that usual confusion, Dovi does it well and he is not the only one in MotoGP, Johann Zarco is another successful example.
The Italian rider was definitely exciting to watch which is mainly due to being a Sunday rider. This season, despite not getting a single pole position he won six races. How could he do it? During the whole weekend Dovi was preparing his race strategy and he would usually come from the back to the front of the race.
The fact that in three of his wins he started from out of the top 5 is what impresses me the most. This proves the previous statement, and consequently, he would bring enthusiasm to the fans who wondered how he came up with such intelligent strategic moves.
For instance, Dovizioso was able to get the best out of Marc Márquez twice this season when fighting for the victory in the last laps. This alone is impressive since the Spaniard is definitely one of, if not the toughest opponent to have in such situations.
Rossi’s statements mentioned in the beginning are, in fact, true and, (especially) motorcycling fans could take this as a life lesson. Besides those affirmations, Rossi also said: “Surely you are in a hurry, but everybody needs time. It is like that not only in MotoGP. In all the sports, everyone wants immediate results. You never have time.”
To sum up, Andrea Dovizioso throughout his career demonstrated that patience, persistence and faith are key factors for people to become the best version of themselves. Moreover he confirmed that changing the mental approach may well be crucial in sports performance.