Uncertainty surrounding his future and the constant dithering by Ducati over a lucrative factory contract distracted Cal Crutchlow on and off the track in the last few MotoGP races.
That’s the view of Crutchlow’s Tech 3 Yamaha boss Herve Poncharal, who believes deliberations over his 2013 plans impacted on his recent performances.
The British rider crashed three times in Indianapolis earlier this month and he suffered his first DNF of the season in America.
But having signed a new one-year deal to remain with the Tech 3 squad in 2013 last Saturday in the Czech Republic, the 26-year-old then enjoyed the best weekend of his MotoGP career.
Hours after penning his new deal he claimed second place on the grid in qualifying. And in Sunday’s 22-lap race he became the first British rider in 12 years to stand on a MotoGP podium after he was third behind Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.
Poncharal told MCN: “Since he was contacted by Ducati and he was thinking about things a lot, his results have not been what they could and should be. I can see it affected him and I was not the only one. It has clear that all this talk about next year has been a distraction. Cal was the not the same as he was at the start of the season. He was still riding well but at Indy he made three crashes in three days and this is not what he has done all year. I believe there is a coincidence in time too from when he started talking to Ducati that he lost a bit of the form he had at the start of the year.”
Crutchlow though played down the fact that his new contract cleared his mind in Brno and allowed him to deliver such a breakthrough weekend in his premier class career.
He was critical of Ducati for dragging its heels over a two-year deal and then frustrated when the contract he thought was his at the end of June eventually got offered to Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian agreed a deal on the eve of the Brno race and will partner American Nicky Hayden in 2013.
But Crutchlow told MCN: “Don't get me wrong, Indy was a nightmare and I was frustrated that things didn't go my way. Not just on the track but also off the track although I still had a decent pace at Indy. I didn't feel like I was riding around thinking about this or that contract, it wasn't about that. I struggled all weekend from the word go. I didn't struggle in Laguna Seca like that and things were still on-going then but the situation changed a little over that time but there was nothing I could do about it. I don't think in Brno suddenly meant I had a clear head because I had this Tech 3 deal on the table in the other races. But it is nice to be able to show my worth immediately after signing."
For the exclusive thoughts of Crutchlow on his maiden podium in Brno, see today’s issue of MCN.