Cal Crutchlow pushing through the pack after falling back when he swerved to avoid Lorenzo and Bautista’s collision.
Cal Crutchlow found himself fighting his way through into the top six from the back of the field for the second MotoGP race in succession at the end of an eventful encounter in Assen. The 26-year-old was left contemplating what might have been after he was dropped to the back of the field at the first corner having swerved to avoid a collision involving Spanish duo Alvaro Bautista and Jorge Lorenzo.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider though set the third fastest lap of the race to fight his way back into fifth position having brilliantly caught and passed Ducati trio Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden and Hector Barbera. His impressive charge from dead last followed his brilliant attack from the back of the grid to sixth with a broken left ankle in Silverstone last month.
At the British Grand Prix Crutchlow had produced lap times good enough to have put him on the podium and it was the same again in the 26-lap Dutch TT. Crutchlow was adamant that he would have been battling with Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso and factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies for third position.
“I am pretty angry because if I hadn’t run off track at the first corner I would have been battling for the podium,” said the English rider. “Andrea did a fantastic job and he deserved it but it should have been me up there. I had brilliant pace again but running off at the first corner put me dead last. I’ve had bad starts and the first good one I get all year I get caught up in some first corner carnage. I was really lucky to be honest because I was nearly collected and it would have been a disaster with my ankle still not even close to 100% after Silverstone. I had the pace to be on the podium and I am disappointed I didn’t make it. I know where we should have been but it was another really bad day and I still finished fifth, so it is not a complete disaster. If I didn’t have the pace to be on the podium I’d have been disappointed but we did.”
Crutchlow was critical of Bautista’s rash move that ended Lorenzo’s terrific start to 2012 and put reigning world champion Casey Stoner firmly back in title contention after the Aussie won for the third time this season. He added: “We all make mistakes and nobody is perfect but you have to be sensible because that kind of thing can finish a career.”
He also said the decision to relegate Bautista to the back of the grid for next Sunday’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring was fully justified. “It is justified because it was lucky it wasn’t more of us because it would have been easy for a few more of us to be caught in it. I had to run off the track to avoid it, so it still wrecked my weekend. I’m not very happy because it was nobody’s fault apart from his.”
Crutchlow would prefer to ride for Factory Yamaha, but is contemplating a two-year deal with Ducati’s factory team.
2013 Plans Not a Distraction
Crutchlow insists that the intense speculation about his MotoGP future is not a distraction as he ponders a two-year offer to join Ducati’s factory squad. The British rider was due to sit down with Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis in the Assen paddock last Wednesday to try and get further clarification on the Japanese factory’s 2013 strategy.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider’s number one priority is to remain on a YZR-M1 machine next season, but he wants to be next to Jorge Lorenzo in Yamaha’s factory squad. Yamaha has yet to make him any formal offer for next season though we understand he has a verbal proposal from Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal to remain on the same financial terms as his current two-year deal.
Crutchlow has a lucrative two-year deal to join Ducati, as revealed earlier this month, and he says he is not swayed against joining the Bologna factory by Valentino Rossi’s abject failure to make the Desmosedici a consistent podium challenger. Crutchlow is also due for talks with Honda management in Assen this week but he said negotiations about his future would not be a big off-track distraction.
“It doesn’t divert me from the job in hand. At the moment I ride for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and my job is to do the best I can for them. Yamaha are doing a fantastic job and so are the team. I am happy and hopefully I can continue to get some good results.”
Crutchlow though says he will have no hesitation to leave Yamaha if they can’t offer him the factory ride he desires. Competition for the seat next to 2010 world champion Lorenzo is fierce with Valentino Rossi, Ben Spies and Andrea Dovizioso all linked with the ride.
A Yamaha factory seat would be Crutchlow’s first choice, but he’s not afraid to ride for Ducati, despite Rossi’s bad luck this season.
Crutchlow continued: “At the moment I have a two-year factory offer but not with Yamaha and I am waiting to see what their plan is. Staying with Yamaha is what I want to do but I am not worried to move to Ducati. It is a factory team and they do a great job and I have to look at the pros and cons. They are not fast at the moment but who is to say that won’t change. My priority is to stay with Yamaha. If Yamaha can’t offer me a factory ride, which I think I deserve being fourth in the world championship, then I’ll look to go somewhere else. I’ve had four great years with Yamaha and I want to stay with them and they know that. I’ve been as loyal to them as much as they have been with me, so hopefully we’ll find out what is going on very soon and I can make a decision. Whether I ride for Yamaha or not next year, I won’t be falling out of love with them. It just means there wasn’t an opportunity for me to go and ride there. I could ride for Herve again next year but I came to MotoGP with ambitions to be world champion and you can’t do that on a privateer bike. You can win races but I am already two steps down on the engine and one on the chassis compared to the factory team, so I am not going to beat Lorenzo on a privateer bike. Maybe next year I won’t be at the level to beat Lorenzo anyway but I also think if you warrant the chance you should be able to have it. It is not my decision and it doesn’t mean at all that Ducati is my second choice. My choice to remain with Yamaha is because I am with them now and it is down to loyalty. At the moment the factory Ducati is maybe not as good as my privateer Yamaha but they are not going to want to be finishing where they are.”
Crutchlow was forced to ride through the pain barrier with the ankle he broke in practice for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone earlier this month still a major discomfort. Crutchlow bounced back from his practice crash at Silverstone to storm to a heroic sixth place at from the back of the grid and he sported a special air boot when he arrived for the pre-event press conference at Assen. Crutchlow had been rehabbing his injury at the Isle of Man, where he employed hyperbaric chamber therapy.