Cal Crutchlow was celebrating an unlikely second successive podium in a row in 2013 after he was the chief benefactor of late drama in Mugello yesterday.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider was doing his best to chase down Repsol Honda duo Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa with an impressive charge in the second half of the 23-lap race.
Lying fourth with three laps remaining, the 27-year-old became the first British rider since Ron Haslam in 1987 to score back-to-back premier class podiums when Marquez tumbled out of second.
Crutchlow had struggled with a familiar problem in the early stages as he found it difficult to stop his YZR-M1 machine with a full fuel tank.
But as the race wore on the fuel load lightened, Crutchlow’s confidence soared and he fought back from being over five seconds behind Pedrosa to finish just a second behind the world championship leader.
The 27-year-old said: “I couldn’t stop the bike as well at the start of the race and with the changes the factory bike has they are able to stop a little bit better. I was not willing to hit the floor and crash, even though I could see the other guys going away.
"There was a safe fourth place there to take some points and when the fuel load came down I was catching the Hondas at a good rate and I could stay at that pace and not take any risks.
"With eight laps to go I could see I was catching them so I started pushing and I was confident I would have got them before the end. Because Marc crashed I think it made easier for Dani to hold his second because he upped his pace and I backed off a little. But I will take that.
!I never want a gifted podium of course but I am pleased with the way I rode and we bounced back from the crash in qualifying as well. I struggled here last year but this year I felt we made a big improvement and I will never give up at the end of the race, so I will keep fighting and keep going forward and that’s what I seemed to be able to do.”
Crutchlow might have beent in the hunt for second at the end of the race had he not got caught up with factory Ducati rival Andrea Dovizioso right off the line.
He said: “Where I lost it all was at the start. Dovi was mental off the line like in Qatar. I got probably the best start I’ve had all year and got a really good launch and he came directly across and nearly hit me so I had to shut off.
"Then he nearly looped out and I was stuck behind him, so the plan was to pass him in the first corner and go after the other two. So that plan went straight out of the window.
"I was pleased to get past him early enough to keep pulling away from those guys and to put 12 seconds into them I am really pleased with that. There were some good factory bikes behind me and I was pleased with that.
"Could I have challenged if I had a little bit better start? I’m sure if I hadn’t got caught up in that first corner stuff I think I’d have been in that battle for the whole race because they had nothing that I never had.
"It is pleasing for the team and me and even if was a fourth I would have been very happy. To be able to catch two factory Hondas towards the end of the race is good.”
Italian Dovizioso, who eventually finished fifth after starting from the front row for the second race in succession, confirmed he’d had a problem accelerating off the line.
He said: “We need to study the data but something happened and I had to manage the situation and close the throttle. The wheelie was really fast, not so high, but the speed at which the front wheel come up was very fast. But I didn't lose any positions. It was good experience to improve the electronic system."
Dovizioso said he didn’t touch Crutchlow but he did admit to having an electronics issue with the anti-wheelie system.
He added: “The electronics didn't work as normal in that moment. Normally you don't have to manage the wheelie off the start so I didn't except it. I wasn't ready for it and the wheel came up so fast. I think I was in second gear but there was a lot of noise of the other bikes."
For more exclusive reaction from Crutchlow, see the June 5 issue of Motor Cycle News.