Cal Crutchlow produced a superb ride to finish on the podium at the German Grand Prix. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider was involved in an entertaining battle with Maverick Vinales throughout Sunday’s race at the Sachsenring and, although he was unable to get past the Yamaha man, he still claimed third position to secure his first podium since the opening round of the season in Qatar.
Crutchlow made a good start, climbing a place into fifth and would then benefit from both Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins crashing out ahead of him. The Briton applied heavy pressure to Vinales as the battle for second spot heated up in the closing stages, but eventually had to settle for third after a mistake on the penultimate lap saw him lose ground on his rival.
“First of all, it’s great to be on the podium at the HJC Grand Prix, the team did a fantastic job. We worked all weekend on what we thought would be a race pace. Yesterday I did around the 28 lap mark a 22.7 and that’s exactly what I did on the 28th lap today. Everybody was shocked when my pace was that, but I thought that would be the pace in the race and it was. The track condition was not great, in the middle of the race I had a bit better pace than Maverick (Vinales), but once (Alex) Rins crashed I thought I’m on the podium anyway and we had nine seconds to the guys behind and the gap was going up every lap. I planned to attack with five laps to go, but the wind was so strong that my eyes were streaming with water, so I tried to blink it out and he (Vinales) got a bit of a gap. I came again, but then with two laps to go I made a big mistake in turn 10 and lost the rear of the bike. So after that I said Maverick could have it, I’m very happy with the podium today, the team and Honda have worked very, very hard and we deserve it.”
Crutchlow had a horrific ankle-break just four months ago, and only started walking again in January, however the British hero was in remarkable form under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in the Gulf state. He battled hard for victory throughout the epic 22-lap race, and having retaken third place from rival Alex Rins on the final lap, held out to finish just three-tenths behind the eventual winner Andrea Dovizioso, marking an unbelievable comeback ride.
It means back-to-back podium finishes for the 33 year-old, who next up heads to the scene of his last grand prix victory, the Termas de Rio Honda circuit in Argentina
MotoGP pre-season testing ended at a blustery Losail International Circuit in Qatar this evening, with Cal Crutchlow completing 39 laps of the track on board his factory LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V.
Crutchlow focused on improving his feeling with the 2019 machine, and was happy with the progress made over the last three nights of work. Like many other riders, the British rider suffered a crash in the tricky conditions, but was fine to continue testing once his machine had been fixed.
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After a three-month absence from any kind of racing motorcycle following his nasty ankle injury at the Australian GP, Cal Crutchlow returned to MotoGP action this week with the first pre-season tests in Malaysia.
Considering the extent of his injuries, the LCR Honda Castrol man was unsure of how things would feel on the bike, but having ended the three-day session as top Honda and faster than the official circuit best lap, it is clear that the Brit will be competitive yet again.
On the final day, Cal focused on testing parts for HRC on the new factory RC213V motorcycle he will ride in the 2019 MotoGP World Championship. Despite missing out on an absolute fast lap when he had a small slide out on the softest tyre, he still posted the sixth fastest time of the day, and the test as a whole.
Crutchlow and the LCR Honda Castrol Team return to testing action in two weeks’ time at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, before the season opener at the same venue in early March.
#35 Cal Crutchlow, 6th (1’58.780, lap 17 of 61)
“I’m happy at the end of the third day, not only with how the test has gone, but to be finished with it too! My ankle by the end was getting sore, hot, and swollen. I feel in good shape however, and the ankle feels good on the bike. It doesn’t bother me on there, it bothers me when I stop.
“I kept the length of the runs quite minimal today, because we didn’t need to go long – we were testing items rather than testing for race pace. I was really pleased with my pace all day. On the used tyres we were consistent and fast which is good. It’s good going into Qatar and especially after a three-month lay-off – to ride again and to be competitive with it.
“I should have gone faster in terms of overall lap time, but I crashed. It was completely my own fault, I went into turn two over-excited! I lost three-tenths in the first sector on my fastest lap, compared to a normal good lap. So, the next lap I pushed like a madman thinking I needed to go half a second faster than I had the previous lap. I had some chatter, tried to save it, and crashed. That was with the really soft, test tyre. On average I think you could take at least six-tenths off with that, so I’m confident we could have gone a lot quicker, and then we didn’t use that tyre again all day.
“I think the 2019 bike is definitely better, but my feeling is I just need to adjust it a bit more. I ride quite a neutral bike, but I haven’t found the perfect setting with the front end just yet. Overall HRC has done a great job with the package. I think it can be competitive for the championship, and it’s one I’m looking forward to riding this year”.