Crutchlow talks impressive second MotoGP win

The LCR Honda rider’s second success of the MotoGP season might still carry a sense of the unexpected with the UK having waited three and a half decades for a first victory in the premier class since Barry Sheene but the truth is that Crutchlow already had promising form for Phillip Island. The 30 year old took the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha to third place in 2012 and was then just a tenth of a second from the same result a year later. He should have finished second in 2014 until crashing in the same corner (4) as Marc Marquez last Sunday. Somewhat unsurprisingly on the second fastest and most ‘balls-out’ circuit on the calendar the outspoken Brno conqueror was in his prime and kept the charging Valentino Rossi at bay…

On achievement and getting through the race…

To be on a satellite bike in a satellite team – with a team that works as hard as ours does – it’s really good to be able to repay them. I knew coming into the weekend that I had a good feeling with the bike and that I was working well with the team.

I knew I could go with Marc. If he did low ‘29s, I could have done them too and I was frustrated a bit with the battle at the start. I got a poor start, and so did Marc, but when he started to go I knew it was time to push. I made a little mistake the lap before he did and lost a tenth, but then he crashed and I didn’t know what to do. I had a target and then I had nothing!

I didn’t read my pit board for the next five laps, then when I did and saw Valentino’s name I thought ‘nah, surely he couldn’t be coming from fifteenth?’ I didn’t know if the gap had come up or down though, until I saw on the next lap that it was going up and I could relax a little.

It was a long, long race. It’s difficult to keep concentration that long when your pit board is going up and up [in terms of times]. I felt good…but I should have carried on pushing. I didn’t start to lose concentration, but my mind was starting to wander when I should have been thinking about what I was doing. But we got the job done! We can definitely improve, and even in the race on Sunday I could have improved in some areas. But I was in the rhythm and couldn’t be arsed to try. I was riding comfortably, but I could have tried some things with the throttle or with the brake. But it’s easier to try those things when you’re in a battle; out at the front on my own I didn’t really want to push any buttons or do anything a little different.

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On managing the hard front Michelin… 

I said on Saturday that we were going to use the hard tyre…before I had even used it! We needed the track temperatures to be 25 degrees and we started the race with 30 – but it was definitely going down during the race because I was getting cold riding the bike!

If Marc had crashed in turn six, I would have thought nothing of it. But I crashed in turn four two years ago with four seconds to Vale and ten seconds clear behind me! He crashed on lap nine and I spent the rest of the race worrying that it was going to be a disaster!

I wasn’t pushing that hard there or taking that much time from it, but I made an effort to push in the laps where the sun wasn’t out to keep the heat in the tyre and took it easier when the sun was out. I got into a rhythm and rode comfortably, but that’s even worse. You have to push even more, because with these tyres if you don’t push you’ll crash.

On ‘earning’ the win…

You’re still going to get ‘Marc’ fans saying that he crashed, or Valentino fans saying he started fifteenth. That’s the way of the world. I don’t care though – I started second, went back to seventh, and still won. I knew I could win at Phillip Island. That’s not arrogance, but I came into the weekend knowing that it was possible.  Maybe we’ll go to the next few races and we won’t be as fast but I’ll give 100% and on Sunday that was enough to win.

On comparison to the maiden triumph at Brno…

Brno was special because it was my first – and because I felt good in those conditions – but this one was special because it was my first dry win. The two feel the same…but I wasn’t hugely emotional afterwards – I was more emotional because Lucy and Willow couldn’t be there for it. There are going to be plenty more times when I can try and win a race that they can be there for though!

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On being a future title contender after a strong run of form in the second half of 2016…

At the moment, and with things the way we are and with what we get from Honda, I don’t know if I can be a title contender. It would be a big ‘ask’ to be a contender next year…but that doesn’t stop me from trying. If I keep getting these good results then we can be. And while the results I’m getting at the minute are good enough for the bike we have, maybe one day I want to target the title. The problem is, these guys around me are fast – so it was nice to get one over on them! But I still think I can improve as a rider – there are things that I could do better. Off the track, there are not many things I could improve – sure, maybe I could be a little more diplomatic sometimes…but for the things I do to prepare for a race, there’s no one who puts in as much as me and my family.

On getting a factory bike [and being mooted in the absence of Dani Pedrosa]…

It isn’t going to happen, and I’m happy with my team, but maybe I deserve more support from my factory. When I rode for Yamaha, I had good support from the factory. We get good support [now] but I think they should be helping me more and LCR as a team more. I know there are people there internally that really help me, and that there are people internally that don’t like them for doing it but that’s racing, and it’s a cutthroat business – and at the end of the day it is a sport and a business.

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On the chances of making a hattrick before the end of 2016…

I came here to attack it like I knew I could. I’m handy enough at Valencia too though, so who knows. I had a few targets at the start of the year – to be on the podium at Brno, to be on the podium at Silverstone, and to win at Phillip Island. Maybe I need to target them all and then we’ll have a better season! There’s no doubt that I’m in a good moment in my career. I said that a few rounds ago, so I guess that means it’s getting even better. I targeted a few races and I did a good job in the second half of the year. I felt strong after I changed the chassis, after the Brno win – it just suits my style a little better and I did well at Silverstone with it too. I’m also riding well at the minute. We’re not getting any special treatment though, even though everyone thinks we are because Dani is at home.

Photos by CormacGP

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