“The bikes are now very close in performance and this year it was even more difficult to make the difference because the limit of the Michelin front was very, very tight.
“Also, the wings didn’t help because when you were behind somebody, the rider in front had more aero effect, so he got more downforce, which gave him less wheelie and more acceleration, so it was more difficult to stay with him on the straight.
“Late braking has always been my style, from my days in 125s. When I arrived in MotoGP I was more or less fast, but to make the last step I always compared my data with Dani’s and he was really strong on the brakes. Also, it’s the character of the Honda to make the lap time on the brakes.
I would be riding full speed in a corner and someone would come around the outside, going much faster. Wow!
“This year with the Michelins, all the different bikes enter the corners in a more similar way, but the Honda still asks me to brake late, because if I don’t, the lap times never come.
“Winning a race at the last corner is an amazing feeling, but also when I won Aragon by 2.7 seconds the feeling was about the same because that race was really important for the championship. Maybe it was a bit boring but after practice I expected it to be even more boring because my rhythm was really good and my target was to lead the race and open the gap, but then I made a mistake and lost many places, so I had to make a lot of overtakes.
“I’ve made a lot of good overtakes and at Aragon I passed everyone in the same place, which always feels very nice. I made my overtakes at the chicane, because this is a strong point with the Honda and my riding style.
“I think the best overtakes on me were when I first arrived in the world championship. I would be riding full speed in a corner and someone would come around the outside, going much faster. Wow! Also, Jorge did a good job on me at the last corner at Silverstone in 2013.”
Dovizioso has won two races in nine years of MotoGP which suggests he’s not the best fighter, but he still enjoys a battle
“I love the battle – riding all alone is not so nice! But I don’t like really aggressive battles because when you’re on the bike it’s quite easy to exceed the limit and sometimes when your adrenaline is very high and you fight with a rider you don’t like, you forget about the risk. I don’t like some riders who are not focused 100 per cent on analysing the risks, but apart from that I love the battle.
“I think it’s got more aggressive now because with all the bike development and all the electronics we can use every last millimetre of the racetrack, which is why there are more battles. Of course, tyres also make a big difference. This year it’s a bit different with the Michelins because there’s more variance in the tyres, so you find yourself fighting with different riders every weekend. Last year, when you were faster, you were faster.
“I’ve had a lot of bad overtakes on me – for sure one of the worst was Argentina this year when Iannone took me out with one corner to go.”
Nine-time champion Rossi invented the modern era of no-quarter-given racing and still has the killer instinct at 37-years-old
“For all the riders the perfect race is to start first and arrive at the finish line with a five-second advantage! But for sure the battle is the most excitement. First of all because if you battle it means the performance between you and the other riders is very similar and also because you need to have the space in your brain to ride the bike, but at the same time you must work out where you can attack and in which way. The battle is also very good because it gives you a lot of adrenaline and it’s the best thing for the people that follow the races.
“It’s difficult to be friends with the riders who you have the harder battles with! Every rider has his own style – some riders are more aggressive and some riders are less aggressive. I think it’s normal to be aggressive, especially in MotoGP because it’s really difficult to overtake. You never have the chance to make an easy, comfortable overtake because the braking distances are so small, so you always have to risk it.
“The important thing is to always try to be aggressive, but not too much. You need to have respect for your rivals to leave some room, but in general all the strong riders I’ve raced against are always very strong in a battle.
“When I had my first big fight with Max [Biaggi] and beat him at Motegi in 2000 I said it felt like an orgasm. I had some very hard battles and some good overtakes with Max. Another of my favourite overtakes was during the battle with [Casey] Stoner at Laguna. Not the one at the Corkscrew but the one where we exited from Turn Two and I went around the outside at Turn Three and we touched a little bit.