Crutchlow storms to maiden MotoGP win
Cal Crutchlow became the first British rider to win a premier class grand prix motorcycle race in 35 years after recording a shock triumph at the Czech Grand Prix.
The LCR Honda rider scythed his way through the field on a damp but drying track as the durability of a hard-hard tyre choice paid dividends as the race progressed.
Crutchlow’s maiden victory saw him become the first British premier class winner since the late Barry Sheene, who tasted victory at the 1981 Swedish Grand Prix.
Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez recovered from tough starts to complete the podium, while fellow championship contender Jorge Lorenzo finished a lap down and out of the points.
Ironically, Lorenzo had the best start but it was Andrea Iannone that led into the first corner before Marquez then emerged in front.
Both Movistar Yamahas laboured with the unpopular hard wet rear tyre choice on the opening lap.
Lorenzo dropped to 10th with Rossi in 12th, while Crutchlow was only 15th.
Andrea Dovizioso took the lead on Lap 2 before his factory Ducati team-mate Iannone took up a longer spell at the front on Lap 4.
It was the Pramac Ducati of Scott Redding, however, who was most impressive as he charged to second on Lap 5 from 14th on the grid.
However, Dovizioso’s race effectively ended with a tyre failure on Lap 10, by which time Crutchlow was picking off his rivals seemingly at will.
The 30-year-old passed Aleix Espargaro to run fifth at the halfway mark, then Marquez on the next lap, and both Hector Barbera and Redding in consecutive corners on Lap 14.
With most of the field shod on soft tyres front and rear, Crutchlow’s chances improved further as a dry line began to emerge, and he decisively passed Iannone six laps from home.
While Rossi staged a comeback thanks to superior rear tyre life, the Italian was never going to reel in Crutchlow, who instead extended his lead.
“I’m really, really pleased for my team,” said Crutchlow, who also scored LCR Honda’s first win.
“We worked hard for this, I took the gamble (hard tyres). I don’t know if anybody else did on the grid but as far as I’m concerned they’re all wimps.”
Rossi ran twelfth as late as Lap 6, before ultimately passing his compatriot Iannone with four laps remaining to score his first podium since the Catalunya victory four races ago.
Marquez completed the podium despite what proved an incorrect soft-soft tyre choice, but reflected favourably on the championship implications of his result.
“Today I did the wrong strategy because I thought that it would stop raining,” said Marquez, who now leads the championship by 53 points from Rossi.
“Then I thought that maybe it will be a flag-to-flag race, but when I saw that would be impossible I started to manage my soft tyres.
“In the end we lose only four points to Valentino (Rossi), we increased the advantage over Jorge (Lorenzo), so I’m really happy with the final result.”
Lorenzo made a change to his dry bike while running 10th mid-race, but was forced to revert to his original mount and was last classified finisher in 17th.
The reigning world champion dropped from second to third in the title race.
Loris Baz flew under the radar for a personal best-equalling fourth position, just ahead of his Avintia Ducati team-mate Barbera.
Eugene Laverty (Aspar Ducati), Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati), Iannone, Maverick Viñales (Suzuki Ecstar), and Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Honda), completed the top 10.
Iannone did well just to finish with severe front tyre wear, while Redding similarly plummeted to an eventual 15th.
In Moto2, Ant West reaffirmed his wet weather prowess in hauling his three-year old Suter machine from 29th and last on the grid to a 10th position finish in a wildcard appearance.
Remy Gardner finished in 21st position as German Jonas Folger took the victory.
The championship now heads to Britain’s Silverstone circuit from September 2-4.
Result: MotoGP Czech Republic Grand Prix
|1||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||22 Laps|
|4||Loris Baz||Avintia Ducati||+12.558s|
|5||Hector Barbera||Avintia Ducati||+13.093s|
|6||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Ducati||+13.812s|
|7||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||+23.414s|
|10||Tito Rabat||Marc VDS Honda||+37.131s|
|11||Yonny Hernandez||Aspar Ducati||+39.911s|
|13||Pol Espargaro||Tech3 Yamaha||+43.202s|
|15||Scott Redding||Pramac Ducati||+1:02.201s|
|17||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha||+1 Lap|
|DNF||Bradley Smith||Tech3 Yamaha||Retirement|