Andrea Dovizioso, 31, is a racer who competes in the premier class for the Factory Ducati team.
Andrea won the 125cc Aprilia Challenge in Italy in 2000 before scooping up the 125cc World Championship with the Kopron Scot Honda team in 2004.
He moved up to the 250cc class in 2005, picking up five podium finishes and third place overall in his debut season. He finished second behind series winner Jorge Lorenzo a year later, and finished second again in 2007.
In 2008 he moved up to the elite class with JiR Team Scot, finishing a credible fourth place in the season opener in Qatar. He finished fifth overall and the following season became an official Repsol Honda rider, replacing former world champion Nicky Hayden. He won his first premier class race at Donington Park and finished sixth overall in the standings.
Andrea went one better in his second season as a Factory Honda rider, finishing fifth overall in 2010.
Despite taking four second places the following season in the three-man Repsol team, and finishing third in the championship behind Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea rejected the offer of a Honda satellite bike and moved to the Tech 3 Yamaha squad, partnering Britain’s Cal Crutchlow.
Dovizioso was quick straight from the off on the Yamaha, gaining top-five finished in his first three starts, and he finished the season in fourth overall to cap an impressive year.
His riding caught the attention of Ducati, who signed Andrea as a replacement for the departing Valentino Rossi in 2013. Despite struggling to adapt to the career-destroying Desmosedici, he scored a fourth in the wet at Le Mans and finished the season in eighth.
His fortunes improved significantly following the arrival of Gigi Dall’Igna, and this year has seen his stock rise even more – outclassing Jorge Lorenzo and enjoying two wins already.
He’s had his fair share big offs – especially on the notoriously difficult to turn Ducati – and knows what kit works and what doesn’t. Here he shares his kit wisdom.
HELMET: “Everything is important when it comes to your helmet – protection, comfort, vision, quietness, ventilation.
“My advice is to try as many on as you can and buy the best you can afford. You can’t afford to settle for less.
“In terms of order of importance, protection is most important for me, then comfort and finally vision. You want your helmet to give you peace of mind. I need to know it’s going to protect me when, not if, I come off. And it needs to be comfortable. When you’re on the bike you don’t want the interior to be uncomfortable, or to be pinching your head, you want not to notice it so you can focus solely on your riding.
“Ventilation is important too. You can soon overheat in hot races, or mist up in west weather, so having a helmet with effective vents is crucial.
“And you want a helmet to be quiet, the quieter the better. Anything that distracts you from takes your focus away from what’s ahead isn’t good.
“The only thing I change about my helmet is the fit. I wear Suomy and we have adapted it slightly so that the visor aperture sits higher up on my head. That way I can see more when I’m in a full racing crouch. Apart from that it’s completely standard.”
LEATHERS: “I like my leathers to be tight. It’s no good having them loose or they’ll offer little or no protection when you crash. But you can’t have them so tight as to restrict movement, so look for leathers with a good range of stretch panels.
“And don’t be put off by weight. Yes, lightness is important, but you don’t want the material to be that thin that the asphalt burns through it as you slide along the tarmac at 180mph.
“I’m not so fussed about external armour, as I don’t think it makes that much difference. So long as you have armour in the crucial areas, then that’s fine. The principle’s the same as when you go MotoCross riding – you want to be protected, but you don’t want it so restrictive that you can’t move.
“My suit has an airbag, but I can’t say I even notice the difference. It doesn’t make the sit feel any heavier or restrict my movement on the bike.”
BACK AND CHEST PROTECTORS: “I wear both and I can’t recommend them enough, especially the back protector. When was the last time you heard of a rider getting paralysed?
“There’s really not any excuse not to wear either anymore. They’re light, comfortable and after a couple of times wearing them you forget you’ve got them on. There’s a huge choice out there, and most are adjustable.”
GLOVES: “Gloves need to have protection in the right places, especially the wrist. If you come off the bike at speed your hands are going to come into contact with the tarmac. It’s very easy for your hands to dig in and break either your wrist or fingers, so the more heavy-duty protection and sliders gloves have, the better.
“The difficulty is finding the right balance between protection and feel. Your hands control the throttle and brakes, so you need movement, but some gloves are that thin and light that when hit the ground or roll through the gravel they almost fall to pieces. That’s not good, so always go for gloves that are that bit thicker.”
BOOTS: “Boots need to be comfortable, flexible and protective. The ankle is a very complex joint, and is easily damaged, so look for boots with lots of external protection in the ankle area.
“I wear Supertech boots and they’re brilliant. The use a really snug tightening mechanism that keeps the boot snug and secure. They’ve got loads of chunky plastic armour but they’re thin enough on the top of the foot to make changing gear easy.”
BASELAYERS: “I can’t imagine riding without these. They’re excellent at keeping your core temperature constant, and work just as well whether the temperature is 5C or 35C. And they make it so much easier to get into and out of your leathers.”
EARPLUGS: “I always wear earplugs. It is impossible to ride a GP bike without them – the engine is just too loud.
“In the 2008 GP at Donington Park I didn’t have time to put my earplugs in as I rolled out the pits for the outlap before the race. It was horrific. It actually hurt my ears. The bike was that loud. You definitely couldn’t complete a full race without wearing them. I’ve never made that mistake again.”