Cal Crutchlow’s fantastic fourth place in last night’s opening MotoGP clash in Qatar drew praise from Yamaha management thrilled with his stunning form in 2012.
The British rider continued his outstanding year by equalling his career best MotoGP result at the Losail International Circuit having got the better of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso at the end of a race long tussle.
Crutchlow, who started from the front row of the grid for the first time in his career, seized fourth place from experienced Italian Dovizioso on lap 17 and was only beaten by Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner.
His brilliant performance continued a real purple patch on board the new Yamaha YZR-M1 1000cc machine after he finished fifth in the final two pre-season tests in Sepang and Jerez.
Crutchlow’s eye-catching performance in the 22-lap race ensured it was a great start to the new 1000cc era for Yamaha, with Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo kicking off the season in victorious fashion.
Crutchlow was singled out for special praise by Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis, who told MCN: “Throughout the whole weekend he was there and qualifying on the front row was impressive. Getting on the front puts a weight on your shoulders to deliver in the race and he rode great.
"There was a gap between him and the front three but he was superb. If I am really honest I am pleasantly surprised. It is not that I expected anything else but it is really nice to see that he has entered this season so far with what seems to be a very positive mindset.
"He seems to be happier on the bike and obviously this is his second year in the team and he has bedded in there. The bike suits him more and our bike is at a very good level so he doesn’t have to push and take too many risks to get the same level of performance that puts him in that top group.
"I’m curious to see how he performs. I think he has a great opportunity to get some top results this season.”
Jarvis believes that if Crutchlow can continue his sparkling early season form then he could emerge as a fans’ favourite in the future.
He added: “Cal is a real character and this sport needs to build the characters. Valentino (Rossi) has dominated for many years and he is still with us and we need to utilise that.
"But at some stage in the future he will do something else and we need to build up as a sport some new stars. I’m not saying to replace Valentino but we need to promote other rider's appeal to the audience.”
For exclusive reaction from Crutchlow, see this week’s Motor Cycle News, available on April 11.