Cal Crutchlow may become a fan favorite in 2012 on what team owner Herve Poncharal says is the strongest Tech 3 Yamaha line-up ever in MotoGP.
Cal Crutchlow’s fantastic fourth place in last night’s opening MotoGP clash in Qatar drew praise from Yamaha management thrilled with his stunning form in 2012. The British rider continued his outstanding year by equaling his career best MotoGP result at the Losail International Circuit having got the better of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
Crutchlow, who started from the front row of the grid for the first time in his career, seized fourth place from experienced Italian Dovizioso on Lap 17 and was only beaten by Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. His brilliant performance continued a real purple patch on board the new Yamaha YZR-M1 1000cc machine after he finished fifth in the final two pre-season tests in Sepang and Jerez.
Crutchlow’s eye-catching performance in the 22-lap race ensured it was a great start to the new 1000cc era for Yamaha, with Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo kicking off the season in victorious fashion.
Crutchlow was singled out for special praise by Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis, who said: “Throughout the whole weekend he was there and qualifying on the front row was impressive. Getting on the front puts a weight on your shoulders to deliver in the race and he rode great. There was a gap between him and the front three but he was superb. If I am really honest, I am pleasantly surprised. It is not that I expected anything else but it is really nice to see that he has entered this season so far with what seems to be a very positive mindset. He seems to be happier on the bike and obviously this is his second year in the team and he has bedded in there. The bike suits him more and our bike is at a very good level so he doesn’t have to push and take too many risks to get the same level of performance that puts him in that top group. I’m curious to see how he performs. I think he has a great opportunity to get some results this season.”
Jarvis believes that if Crutchlow can continue his sparkling early season form then he could emerge as a fans’ favorite, adding: “Cal is a real character and this sport needs to build the characters. Valentino (Rossi) has dominated for many years and he is still with us and we need to utilize that. But at some stage in the future he will do something else and we need to build up as a sport some new stars. I’m not saying to replace Valentino, but we need to promote other riders appeal to the audience.”
Poncharal Hails Strongest Tech 3 Lineup MotoGP
Crutchlow and Dovizioso spearhead the strongest Tech 3 Yamaha line-up ever in MotoGP in 2012, according to team boss Herve Poncharal. Besides his surprising finish at Qatar, Crutchlow has been in outstanding form during winter testing and at the last two sessions in Sepang and Jerez he posted the fifth quickest time. Dovizioso meanwhile has been impressively getting to grips with the new Yamaha YZR-M1 1000cc machine after his switch from Honda at the end of last season. The Italian brings proven premier class pedigree to Tech 3 after he finished third in the 2011 world championship rankings while riding for Repsol Honda with Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.
New Tech 3 Yamaha rider Andrea Dovizioso took fifth place in Qatar and looks to be riding well for his new team.
Poncharal believes his French-based squad starts the season with its strongest line-up since it joined MotoGP, saying: “When you look at Cal’s performances in winter testing and you consider the pace and experience Andrea has, maybe this is strongest MotoGP package that Tech 3 has ever had. And with only six factory riders I think we have some good cards to play.”
Poncharal is optimistic that both Crutchlow and Dovizioso can challenge for podium finishes in 2012, though he conceded that battling Stoner and factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo was a huge task.
“The big question mark is how will Ducati perform,” said Poncharal. “For sure you have Casey, Dani, Jorge and Ben (Spies) at the front and after that we are in that zone and we could be close to Valentino (Rossi), Nicky (Hayden) and Alvaro (Bautista). But we could even be fighting with Ben and Dani in some races for the podium and that has to be the target. We are certainly very optimistic that 2012 is going to be a very successful year for Cal and Andrea.”