Cal Crutchlow said Valentino Rossi’s brilliant return to the podium in a rain-hit French Grand Prix on Sunday proved the Italian is still one of the best riders in the world.
Rossi claimed his first rostrum for 12 months and best Ducati finish when he finished second in Le Mans after coming out on top of separate thrilling battles with Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso and then reigning world champion Casey Stoner.
With only one podium finish in 20 races prior to the Le Mans clash, doubts had started to creep in about whether Rossi was still fast enough at the age of 33.
The nine-times world champion has been criticised for not being more competitive on Ducati’s Desmosedici.
But British rider Crutchlow said Rossi is still undoubtedly fast enough to win races having starred in an exciting podium battle on Sunday.
Crutchlow was fifth and right behind Rossi and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Dovizioso when he crashed out at the second corner on lap 19 and he told MCN: “Let me tell you he (Rossi) can still ride.
"Everybody has counted him out but I have always said he has still got it and he is one of the best in the business and he showed what he could do on Sunday. To be able to battle with him was good for me and my experience but he showed what a great competitor he is.”
Crutchlow re-joined the race and finished eighth while Rossi secured his best Ducati result with a brilliant last lap move on Stoner’s Repsol Honda.
For more from Rossi and Crutchlow, see the May 23 issue of Motor Cycle News.