Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso has revealed he came “very close” to a return with the works Honda MotoGP outfit during last season’s rider market negotiations.
The Italian raced for the Repsol-backed factory Honda squad from 2009 and 2011, scoring a sole win at Donington Park in his first season for the team.
But Dovizioso lost his seat when Honda slimmed down from three to two works bikes at the end of 2011, forcing him to spend a season with Tech 3 Yamaha before switching to Ducati for 2013.
With Ducati luring big-name signing Jorge Lorenzo from Yamaha early in 2016, there was uncertainty over Dovizioso’s place in the team, as the Italian marque weighed up whether to keep the 31-year-old or Iannone for 2017 alongside Lorenzo.
It eventually opted to keep Dovizioso, with Iannone replacing Yamaha-bound Maverick Vinales at Suzuki.
But Dovizioso says he was close to making a return to Honda, although such a move would have depended on Vinales staying at Suzuki and Dani Pedrosa being drafted in to replace Lorenzo at Yamaha.
“It depended on what others did, but with Honda we were very close [to signing],” Dovizioso told Sky Italia. “But it depended on Vinales’ decision.
“Anyway, there was also definitely Suzuki [as an option].”
The Italian added that he is still highly regarded by Honda, which is why the team was willing to hire him as a teammate to Marc Marquez in the event of losing Pedrosa.
“The reason why I was close to Honda was because they remembered the work that we had done during the years we were together,” said Dovizioso.
“While I’m not the rider who is a 21-year-old future star, they know what I bring.”