Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) earned a first podium finish since his Argentina GP win after taking P3 at the GP Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, benefitting from a late Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) crash to give LCR Honda a fantastic home GP rostrum at Misano.
“Yeah the team did a fantastic job obviously, it’s their home race this weekend, I was disappointed to not race my home race two weeks ago so we had to put everything into the team’s home race,” began Crutchlow. “We tried our best and sure we got lucky with Lorenzo’s crash at the end but as I said I don’t really care, we did a good job, I’m proud of my team and we go to Aragon in good shape.”
After a Q2 crash, the 32-year-old had to settle for P6 on the grid and having started on the hard front tyre, Crutchlow didn’t feel comfortable pushing in the opening exchanges. But was this a tactic that cost him the chance to fight with Lorenzo and Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez? “I lost one second in one lap, and that’s just the amount… I was two seconds at one point to Marc and Jorge I think, but that one second would have just made me be there. But hey this is the way it goes,” explained the Honda rider.
He continued: “I wasn’t willing to push at the start of the race as much as I could, I got passed by Rins and I never had the power to go past him in the straight because I was using a soft map, then I managed to pass him really easily, he gave up the place for some reason, he sort of let me through. When I was closing I think he realised I was faster and he could manage to the end on his own. Obviously we have to be very pleased for the team, we did a very good job today and we can go to Aragon in good shape and towards the end of the year also.”
The British rider is enjoying his best and most consistent MotoGP™ season to date, finishing outside the top six just once in the races he’s finished this season, and even that was P8 in Le Mans after a bruising qualifying highside left him hospitalised the night prior. This podium also propelled him above Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in the Independent Team’s Championship standings, but is it the best he’s even ridden in his career? Not quite says the man himself, but it isn’t far off:
“I feel I’m riding well, I feel I’m riding… maybe not the best of my career but I still feel I’m riding well and the team’s working well. The Honda is a good bike, we need to improve it sure, because we don’t have enough rear grip at the moment and I feel this is where we lose compared to the Ducati. It looks like we lose in the straight and the speed but I don’t think that’s the issue, I think the issue is the rear grip and we will try and improve that until the end of the year and especially for next year’s bike.”
And what about Aragon next up? It’s a track he’s scored a podium at before in 2014, but Alma Pramac Racing, Ducati Team, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP and Team Suzuki Ecstar are among the five teams to have tested there recently, so Crutchlow knows it will be a difficult weekend from the outset: “Yeah that’s going to make it difficult, we know it’s going to make it difficult because the others have been there testing, but we have to, as I said, hold our head high from this result and the last results and try to go with them.”