Cal Crutchlow will ride through the pain barrier in tomorrow’s Spanish MotoGP race at Jerez after the British rider suffered two high-speed crashes in practice and qualifying earlier.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider had made a perfect start to the day when he topped the timesheets at the end of the third and final practice.
But with track temperatures soaring for FP4, Crutchlow was looking for another morale-boosting top three finish when he lost the front-end of his YZR-M1 machine at the fast Turn 5, which is a long right-hander leading onto the back straight.
The 27-year-old walked away unhurt from the spill but worse was to follow in hot and humid conditions in QP2.
Crutchlow was lying in fourth place and looking to challenge for a ninth front row start in the premier class when he suffered a fast and hard crash in the braking zone for the final corner.
Crutchlow slammed onto the tarmac on his left shoulder and then rolled several times through the gravel before coming to a stop just before he hit the perimeter fence.
His YZR-M1 machine though was travelling so fast through the gravel trap that it catapulted the fence and landed on the trackside service road. Luckily nobody was injured and Crutchlow eventually got to his feet before returning to the track.
A best lap of 1.39.262 put him fourth on the grid but he needed lengthy treatment in the circuit’s medical centre where he was diagnosed with a small bleed around his left kidney.
The former World Supersport champion will be fit to start tomorrow’s 27-lap race and he said: “It was a tough day. I am very sore but that’s part of racing. The worst thing is that yesterday Mr Nakajima, the Yamaha boss, said he couldn’t believe that I haven’t crashed at all this year. So I gave him two in one day. It is clear that only (Jorge) Lorenzo can ride the Yamaha to that pace when the track conditions are like that and it is hot.
I always knew I’d have a lot of problems in the afternoon because we know that as soon as the track temperature goes up it is quite greasy. The first crash was for no real reason. I did nothing different to any other lap but at that pace you are on the limit. I made a small mistake and rode off the side of the tyre but I wasn’t at the lean angle Lorenzo gets, so how he does it we don’t know.
I made a small mistake in braking for the second crash and when the bike came back my hand on the lever was already pressed and when the bike shook I locked the front. There was obviously something wrong with the gravel as well because I was sliding fine and then as soon as I hit I was tumbling so there must be a jump. I have a bit of blood on my left kidney but that’s part of racing and sometimes you crash.
It is going to be a big crash in that point because whenever you crash these bikes in a straight line you slap the floor so hard. I hit my collarbone really hard and there’s a metal plate in there and I’m so surprised that nothing happened given how hard I hit the floor. The worst bit was when I took off after hitting the gravel. There’s a capsule that goes around your kidney and in between that there’s some blood. I had a big crash and it is one of those things.”
Crutchlow said he is still optimistic he can fight for a first podium of the season in tomorrow’s race, with Spanish trio Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez taking a clean sweep of the front row.
He added: “I’ve got the pace no doubt about that. I think Lorenzo has a little bit more as always but I think I’m there or thereabouts. The Honda is stronger than what they have shown but we are there. Starting on the second row is not the best and it is difficult to pass.
I’d have liked to have started on the front row and got away with Lorenzo. If he went fast at the start I believe I could go with him and the same in the middle. If him and Pedrosa are in front and someone is messing around in third place and there’s a gap you will never get it back.”