Cal Crutchlow could barely contain his delight after he became the first British rider in 12 years to stand on a MotoGP rostrum in yesterday’s Czech Republic clash in Brno.
A stunning third place behind dominant Spanish duo Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo saw the 26-year-old become the first British rider on a MotoGP podium since Jeremy McWilliams took third at Donington Park in 2000.
Starting from a career best second place on the grid, Crutchlow ended the first lap in third place and he never looked in any serious danger of being passed by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.
Italian Dovizioso was chasing a sixth podium in eight races but his pressure didn’t push Crutchlow into a mistake and speaking exclusively to MCN, the former World Supersport champion said: “It feels great. I knew at some point this year it was going to come but I’ll admit that if Casey (Stoner) was here it might have been a different story. But when the opportunities come you have to take it because there are three guys in this championship that are unbelievably fast. I rode a really good race and doing it for 22 laps alone is not easy. I wish I could have been in the front fight but I was too cautious at the start. I just didn’t want to crash when I was in third and I felt if I finished the race I was going to get a good position. My aim now is to finish in the top five in the championship and maybe we can pass Casey if we can keep mounting up the points. It has been a strong season so far and we have also proven a lot of people wrong. People have always been comparing me to Andrea but they forget he was a factory Honda rider for three years and he has had numerous podiums and been in Grand Prix racing for 11 years. I’m in my second year and it is difficult to come in here and be fast straightaway. I don’t think I’ve done a bad job. Obviously last year was useless but I gained experience and came back stronger.”
Crutchlow’s podium rounded off a memorable weekend after he signed a new one-year deal to stay with Herve Poncharal’s French-based Tech 3 squad for 2013 on Saturday morning.
He opted to stay with Tech 3 after getting serious interest from HRC to join the Gresini Honda squad and Crutchlow added: “It is great to finally get the monkey off my back. I knew going into the race I had a consistent pace and we needed to make no mistakes. I made one mistake with seven laps to go when I ran a little bit wide at Turn 3. I couldn’t hold the pace of Jorge and Dani but I felt to get away with them was good. They must have been a bit up and down because I stayed on the same lap time and I could see them one lap and not the next. It was a pleasing race for me because to be consistent on your own for 22 laps is difficult. We signed a new contract with Tech 3 and it is a great way to start our new relationship. We had a tough season last year but they have put their faith in me for this year and now again for next year so it is a great start. We qualified on the front row and got a podium and this sets us up perfectly for the rest of the year. We came here with high expectations and did a good job and kept that gap to Dovi and made sure he couldn’t get close. I was happy when it was over a second and I knew I could ride my own race. After so much stuff going on in the last few months it is nice to finally get that podium and come away form here with a new contract, a front row, a podium and a good strong race. It is a combination of relief and the pressure being off now. I can go to Misano happy because I have finally done what I need to do. But I could go to Misano and be 15th. You learn every time you go out on these bikes and even after three laps with them guys I learnt something at the start of the race. Especially from Jorge, I could see him and learnt something in the stadium section and also out of the last corner and it seemed to work better.”
When asked by MCN whether his best weekend on track was the result of his mind being free from talk of contracts and speculation of where and what he will be riding in 2013, he added: “Everyone will say that I got my contract sorted but it didn't matter to me. I came here on Friday and it was not sorted and it changed every hour all day Friday and I was still fast. It made no difference in my mind.”
For more exclusive thoughts from Crutchlow on his podium and new Tech 3 Yamaha contract, see the August 29 issue of Motor Cycle News.