In 1990 the American rider tested the Cagiva "without any commitment”, but the story then took a turn and the four-time world champion powered the Italian GP bike to its first 500 win. Could history repeat itself?
The ebb and flow of history. Andrea Dovizioso’s outing with the Aprilia RS-GP "to make some laps together without any commitment for the future" (to cite Massimo Rivola) is reminiscent of what happened between Eddie Lawson and the Castiglioni brother’s Cagiva in 1990.
At the time, the Italian 500 bike had had (yet) another disappointing season and Cagiva wanted the four-time world champion to assess the potential of the C589, hopeful of some signs of competitiveness that could reignite the passions of a team that was on the point of retiring from the reigning class. Tired after years of sub-par results, the Castiglionis were close to giving up.
This is not comparable to the current Aprilia situation of course, but the news that Andrea Dovizioso will ride the Italian bike (having left Ducati) definitely piques our curiosity. An important step for Andrea who, as things stand, is a former MotoGP rider (despite him calling this a sabbatical rather than a real retirement from racing), but one who still has a lot to give.
Lawson too was on the point of retirement, having struggled against team-mate/rival Wayne Rainey in 1990, as part of Kenny Roberts’ Yamaha team (also due to a serious accident early in the year). But his adventure with Cagiva soon convinced him of the bike’s potential. During the Rijeka test, the Californian set front-row times (1.29"13) which excited the team but also planted a seed in the American rider’s mind.
And so Lawson signed with Cagiva for the 1991 season, scoring two podiums throughout the season (at Misano and Paul Ricard) and finishing sixth overall. The following year brought the red bike’s first victory, at the Hungarian GP (as well as a podium at Assen with Barros), a risky tyre choice ultimately paying off.
Needless to say, a similar outcome that sees Dovizioso aboard the RS-GP, another bike short on results despite the Noale staff’s best efforts, could be more than a little intriguing. Perhaps the Jerez tests on 12-14 April will serve to showcase the perennial charm of a…. beautiful Italian.
Translated by Heather Watson