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Dovizioso takes Japan MotoGP victory after thrilling Marquez duel

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Andrea Dovizioso clinched his fifth win of the 2017 MotoGP season after a thrilling battle with championship rival Marc Marquez in wet conditions at Twin Ring Motegi on Sunday, closing the gap in the title race.

Dovizioso entered the race weekend trailing Marquez by 16 point at the top of the riders’ championship, and was at risk of losing more ground after only qualifying ninth, with his rival starting third on the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Dovizioso was able to pick his way up the order in heavy rain before entering battle with Marquez for the lead at just past half distance.

The pair swapped position back and forth through the closing stages, with Dovizioso moving into the lead for the final time after a moment for Marquez at Turn 8.

Marquez tried a last-corner lunge, only for Dovizioso to fend him off and take the checkered flag just two-tenths of a second ahead for one of the most dramatic wins of the season.

“When I overtook him I wanted to make a gap, but I didn’t have the rear tire. So it was just about strategy and being in the right place at the right time,” Dovizioso said.

“I saw him struggling and I was struggling, but maybe he was over the limit and he made a mistake. Already at the start of the lap I knew I would have to do everything perfect two corners before to have the chance.

“I knew Turn 11 was my break, but there were two corners remaining and I knew that anything could happen. It was so exciting to be in this race, to fight with Marc always is, and it was important for the championship.”

Danilo Petrucci completed the podium on the satellite Octo Pramac Ducati, having led early on, while Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins took P4 and P5 respectively for Suzuki.

Jorge Lorenzo’s wait for his maiden Ducati victory continued as he finished sixth ahead of Aleix Espargaro and pole-sitter Johann Zarco, with Maverick Viñales and Loris Baz completing the top 10.

Valentino Rossi crashed out of his second race back for Yamaha after breaking his leg, but was able to walk away and does not appear to have sustained any further injury.

Now trailing by just 11 points, Dovizioso will continue his pursuit of Marquez in next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Philip Island.

Adam Enticknap paves the way for the ‘Other 19’

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Once the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season kicks off in Anaheim, Calif. on January 4, eyes inevitably will begin to focus on the front of the field.

One rider will win that race. Two will stand on either side of him on the podium. Nineteen others will ride quietly back to the garage and if they’re lucky, get a few minutes to tell the tale of their race to a few members of the media. On their way off the track, the other 19 will take a minute to wave to the fans in the stands.

Adam Enticknap will motion for them to follow him.

One of the most engaging riders in the sport, Enticknap not only recognizes his role as a dark horse on Supercross grid, he revels in it.

“Not everyone is going to win,” Enticknap said last week at the Supercross media sessions. “There’s only one winner on a weekend; that’s it. There can’t be more than one winner. And everyone else has got to go home and eat too.”

A recognized Hip Hop artist known for his video ‘My Bikes Too Lit’, Enticknap is bringing new fans to the track – and as a result, he is putting a spotlight on riders deeper in the field.

Last year Enticknap was coming off a broken femur that marred his SX season. He made only three Mains with a 20th in Indianapolis, 15th at Houston, and an 18th at Las Vegas. In October, he earned a career-best 14th in the Monster Energy Cup at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. He got there by being consistent in the three heats, finishing 16-15-15.

But that’s not the point for Enticknap. Yes, he wants to win but it is just as important to be the ambassador for those riders who are known only to their fans.

“I’ve made a path for riders that are not going to win,” Enticknap said. “And that’s not saying that I don’t want to win, or that I’m not going to win, but I’ve made it so that the guy who’s finishing 20th and barely making the Mains can make a full career out of it. I’m probably the most famous, slowest guy on the track. It’s come from the way I’ve marketed myself and the way I’ve been with my fans and I’ve appreciated every second that I’ve been here.”

On a good weekend, Enticknap is one of the “other 19” in the Main Event.

“Without all of us, there really is no winner. Everybody’s got to show up and everybody’s got to compete during the weekend. In our sport, everyone is so hyper-focused on the guy who is winning all the time, but I hope that I’ve opened people’s eyes that sometimes it’s not just about the guy who wins the race as much as it is about the guy who is succeeding during the weekend.”

For Enticknap, success looks different than for last year’s champion Cooper Webb or Eli Tomac who won six of the 17 races in 2019. It’s about knowing that when it’s time to ride back to the hauler – whether that is at the end of the Main or after a Last Chance Qualifier – that nothing was left on the track.

“My best finish was a 14th at the Monster Energy Cup – ever in my career,” Enticknap emphasized. “Making my way from the bottom is huge. I made my way from not even making the top 40 to finishing 14th in A-Main Event. That’s huge.”

And that’s progress.

In his second season with H.E.P. Motorsports, Enticknap predicts he will make 10 Mains this year.

Even if he advances to only half of the Features, it will be his best season in eight years at this level. Enticknap qualified for seven Mains in 2017 with a best of 18th at Vegas. He was in five Mains in 2018 with a best of 16th at San Diego before signing with his current team – and getting injured without rightly being able to show what he could do with them.

“I want to break into the top 10 – that’s my goal for the year – but as of right now I’m succeeding in all the little goals that I’ve set and I want to keep succeeding,” Enticknap said.

It’s not enough to want to finish well, however; riders have to visualize a path to success. For Enticknap, that will come with because of how he approaches stadium races. Towering over the field, Enticknap is not a small man by anyone’s measure so it’s ironic that he makes a comparison between Supercross and ballet. The indoor season is about precision, technical mastery, and finesse. And that is where Enticknap believes he shines.

“Supercross is more of a ballet. It’s more perfection. It’s something that takes so much talent – and you can see it in real life. When you watch an outdoor race, you’re like ‘that guy’s a beast’; he’s manhandling it; he’s hammering the throttle. And when you see a Supercross race it’s just so rhythmic and flowing and light. So much finesse on everything. Just such a fluent, technical race.”

Enticknap credits his background in BMX racing as one of the reasons why he is so fluid on a tight track.

“Supercross fits my riding style a lot,” Enticknap said. “I don’t like to just hang it out and get all sideways and just swap, swap, swap. I like to be very precise in all my movement. I’m a perfectionist. It helps in Supercross because everything is just timed by the millisecond.”

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