British rider Cal Crutchlow believes he can be battling for the podium in every race in 2013 after his impressive second season in MotoGP ended in painful and frustrating fashion in Valencia yesterday.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider looked on course to claim Britain’s best MotoGP result since 1989 when he sat in a comfortable second place with eight laps remaining.
The 2009 World Supersport champion was over eight seconds clear of Japanese test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga when he fell heavily at the final corner on lap 23.
The mistake cost Crutchlow a third podium finish of 2012, but the 27-year-old is confident the form he has shown this season means he will be a more consistent podium threat next season.
Although Crutchlow only finished three of the final eight races, he was a challenger for the podium or top five in all those races and he reckons if Yamaha can supply him with a much-improved YZR-M1 for 2013 then he can add to his third place finishes in Brno and Phillip Island.
He told MCN: “I’m disappointed not to finish second but I have shown my speed this year and hopefully Yamaha will give us a better package so I can fight for the podium every week.
"Casey (Stoner) has gone but (Marc) Marquez is going to be coming in. It will be tough to be on the podium next year, probably even tougher than this year, so we need Yamaha to give us the right machinery.
"I’ve had a great year and to be seventh in the championship doesn’t reflect my speed. Valentino (Rossi) has had a disaster year and he beat me in the championship and it looks bad on paper but I’ve been a lot faster.
"He’s finished 11th in some races and picked a few more points up but I have been battling for podiums. There has been no point in the year where I’ve been battling for less than fifth place at some stage in a race.
"I’m not happy to crash out of the last race but I think I showed I’ve got podium potential for next year in the last few races. We should have finished fifth but I made a few mistakes and in Motegi was a blow when I ran out of fuel. I’ve shown raw speed again so hopefully next year I can be fast and consistent.”
Crutchlow was one of four riders that pitted and switched to slick tyres just seconds before the start of yesterday’s 30-lap race.
The race was declared wet but a clear dry line had already appeared before the start and Crutchlow switched to his YZR-M1 with a dry set-up that meant he joined Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Nicky Hayden in starting from pit lane.
Crutchlow scorched through from the back of the field to move into the top three on lap 13 and he said: “I thought I was quite clever because I slowed down on the warm up lap and waited to see who was coming in. I saw Dani go in so I went in.
"I set off and thought I’d let the other guys set the pace because it was a bit dodgy coming through the CRTs. I wanted to let Dani set the pace because I’d already passed Nicky but Bautista made himself so wide, and because there was such a thin dry line, to pass was a disaster.
"I kept pushing from there and I was the fastest guy on track with Dani. Each time Dani did a fast lap I got held up. When I crashed he was 24 seconds ahead of me but on four laps in traffic he took seven seconds out of me.”
For more from Crutchlow, see the November 14 issue of MCN.