A British rider on a MotoGP podium had become almost as rare as the sight of Halley’s Comet.
A podium drought that stretched back to the British Grand Prix in 2000 was finally ended though when Cal Crutchlow stormed to a brilliant third place in Brno.
He told MCN after his career breakthrough result in the Czech Republic: “It is humbling to take that podium. The last time Jeremy (McWilliams) was on the podium Valentino (Rossi) was winning his first MotoGP race, so that shows how long ago it was. For me it is a great achievement and I’m chuffed for the British fans and they deserve it.
It is 31 years since Barry Sheene won a MotoGP race and if I can go and try and win one soon it will be great. It won’t be easy but maybe some point next year (2013) I’d like to be challenging. But it is humbling because there has been some good British talent come through and they haven’t managed to do it. It is nice that I’ve done it.”
He backed that up with another third behind Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo in Phillip Island after climbing off his sickbed following a severe bout of bronchitis.
He told MCN in Australia: “I swear that I sat down with Lucy (Crutchlow’s partner) on Friday morning and didn’t know if I was going to race. I was that bad I honestly thought about pulling out. I couldn’t breathe and I was coughing stuff up off my chest that looked like a Monster claw it was that green. It was a tough weekend physically but I had to dig deep to try and pull something out of the bag and I did.
When I was fifth on Friday I thought well I carry on but at the start of the weekend I was going to pull out. I felt way within my limits and I rode a consistent race, which is difficult when you do 27 laps on your own. But I had a podium to get and I got it.”
But there were agonising near misses too that ultimately cost him the chance to claim fifth overall in the final rankings.
He lost third on the last lap in Aragon after an epic fight with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso and then ran out of fuel while battling for third with Alvaro Bautista on the last lap in Japan.
There was crushing late heartache in Valencia too when the chance to claim Britain’s best MotoGP result for 23 years slipped from his grasp when he fell out of second in treacherous conditions.
The 27-year-old started from the front row in seven races and he produced one of the performances of the season after another home nightmare at Silverstone in June.
He broke and dislocated his left ankle in a heavy final practice crash but after convincing medics to let him start the race, he produced a fantastic surge from the back of the grid to snatch a heroic and unlikely sixth place.