Three-time MotoGP runner-up Andrea Dovizioso will not participate in the 2021 world championship in any role, electing instead to take a sabbatical.
According to The Race’s sources in the MotoGP paddock, Dovizioso has declined a number of offers to become a test rider and will sit out next season before hoping to return in 2022.
The 34-year-old Italian rider dramatically announced a split with Ducati earlier this season, only hours before taking his first and so far only victory of the year at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Reportedly deeply unhappy with the team’s internal politics over the past year, Dovizioso walked away without having secured a deal for the coming season.
Since then he’s been linked to a number of other projects, both as a racer and as a test rider.
He was initially believed to be close to signing a deal to join former rival Dani Pedrosa within KTM’s test team, and would have been guaranteed the chance to replace any injured or incapacitated riders.
He was then linked to the possibility of joining Aprilia as Andrea Iannone’s replacement should Iannone (as expected) fail to have his doping ban overturned.
However, it’s believed that Dovizioso may have priced himself out of the market for that opportunity, wanting both a salary and an increased investment in the project that Aprilia owner Piaggio was not prepared to meet.
He’s also been linked to test rider roles at both Honda and Yamaha, with the Honda role in particular believed to be of interest while uncertainty over the impact of Marc Marquez’s injury on his long-term career continues.
Dovizioso originally came into MotoGP with Honda, and spent three seasons in its factory team.
He was also part of the Yamaha fold in 2012 when he rode for its satellite team Tech3, before joining Ducati the following year.
Dovizioso has decided against all the test and reserve opportunities and hopes to instead find a route back to a competitive race ride for 2022.
A statement released on Tuesday backed up what was said by The Race’s sources, with Dovizioso writing about his 2021 plans: “Over the last few months, I have received several offers to work as a test rider in developing MotoGP projects and I am grateful for the consideration received by the manufacturers. However, I have decided not to make any commitments and to remain free from formal agreements for now.”
“I will return to MotoGP as soon as I find a project driven by the same passion and ambition that I have and within an organization that shares my same objectives, values and working methods,” he added.
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🇬🇧 THIS IS WHAT I’M GOING TO DO IN 2021 Over the last few months, I have received several offers to work as a test rider in developing MotoGP projects and I am grateful for the consideration received by the manufacturers. However, I have decided not to make any commitments and to remain free from formal agreements for now. I have an immense passion for racing. I still have the ambition to compete and fight to win. I will return to MotoGP as soon as I find a project driven by the same passion and ambition that I have and within an organization that shares my same objectives, values and working methods. Now I am focused on finishing the World Championship in the best possible way, and I have already started developing some projects with my partners. 🇮🇹 ECCO COSA FARÓ NEL 2021 Nel corso degli ultimi mesi ho ricevuto le proposte di alcune Case per partecipare nel 2021 come test rider al lavoro di sviluppo dei loro progetti in MotoGP. La cosa mi ha fatto molto piacere e sono grato per la considerazione ricevuta. Nonostante queste opportunità ho deciso di non prendere nessun impegno e di rimanere libero per ora da accordi formali. Ho un’immensa passione per le gare e ho ancora l’ambizione di voler correre e lottare per la vittoria. Tornerò quindi in MotoGP se e quando troverò un progetto guidato da altrettanta passione e ambizione e all’interno di un’organizzazione che condivida obiettivi, valori e metodo di lavoro. Ora sono focalizzato nel terminare il mondiale nel miglior modo possibile e ho gia’ iniziato a sviluppare alcuni progetti con i miei partners per il futuro. #Dovi04 #AD04 #undaunted #ForzaDucati #MotoGP #Alpinestars #SuomyHelmets #RedBull #Biotekna #Mondottica #DucatiEyewear #lentidavistaGalileo #MucOff 📷 @calloalbanese
But a 2022 return may not be as easy as the 34-year-old imagines given his age and the 2021 influx of young talent into the premier class.
The Yamaha test rider role looks set to go instead to Dovizioso’s former Tech3 Yamaha team-mate Cal Crutchlow, who had been another very strong contender for Aprilia.
The British racer has already confirmed that he won’t be at LCR Honda next year, but with retirement not yet on the cards a return to Yamaha as tester and occasional wildcard and replacement rider would be a strong fit.
That leaves Aprilia without a rider, with the team already admitting that it will not re-sign Iannone should his 18-month suspension stand – as is largely expected.
It has also moved to replace stand-in and current test rider Bradley Smith for the remainder of this season, all but ending his hopes of riding for Aprilia next year. Italian Superbike champion Lorenzo Savadori has been brought in instead.
The latest developments could well mean that five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo has moved into pole position to make a dramatic return to the grid with Aprilia.
Lorenzo is now the fastest rider without a deal who wants to compete in 2021, is willing to accept Aprilia’s terms, and has positive history with the company having won his pair of 250cc world titles in 2006/07 with it.