After what was a difficult qualifying session on Saturday that left him languishing in 11th, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) put in a strong Sunday race-day performance at the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky to finish in the top five and as second Independent rider. The British ace, who won at Brno back in 2016, raced through the field before pulling away from Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and securing a second top-five performance on the bounce.
Starting from row four – just like he did in 2016 – Crutchlow left himself plenty of work in what would be a dramatic 2019 Czech Grand Prix. Having dealt with a 40-minute delay, a fired-up Crutchlow was strong in the opening laps and once he had cleared Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), he set his sights on Rossi, who was stuck behind a resilient Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Once both Rossi and Crutchlow got ahead of Espargaro, the British-ace disposed of the veteran Italian at Turn 3 just under halfway through the race.
“At the end of the first lap, or the first two or three anyway, I was already 3.8 seconds down or something like that, so I lost a lot of time in the first few laps as I was not able to get through. Maybe I wasted one lap too many behind (Danilo) Petrucci and Valentino (Rossi), but I tried my best, had a good pace and we’re happy with the result considering where we came from on the grid.
Crutchlow’s fifth-place sets him up perfectly for the Red Bull Ring, where he was fourth last season. The British-ace will seek to be back to his best and return to the podium once more next time out.
“I made a good start and had a good race, but I just wore that rear tyre out coming across the gap to the front guys. I was four seconds down and got it back to two at one point, but that put a lot of stress on the rear tyre on a day when the track condition was really, really bad. Overall, we’re happy, the team did a good job, Honda did a good job and we should be pleased to come away with a top-five result after not a good qualifying and not having a great feeling with the bike this weekend.”