Cal Crutchlow battled with Alvaro Bautista for third-place until he ran out of fuel on the final lap and retired.
Cal Crutchlow was left to ponder what might have been after he saw a podium slip from his grasp on the last lap for the second race in succession at the Twin Ring Motegi. After losing out in a last lap thriller to Andrea Dovizioso at the Motorland Aragon last month, Crutchlow was dicing with Alvaro Bautista for third in Japan when his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine ran out of fuel.
And in a double blow for the 26-year-old, not only was he forced to retire with at least a fourth place in the bag, he dropped from fifth to seventh in the world championship standings behind Bautista and Valentino Rossi.
Fuel consumption was always going to be an issue at the stop and go Honda-owned venue, with the track dominated by hard braking and acceleration.
Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal said of the incident: “We knew that fuel consumption was going to be the big issue and unfortunately that’s how it turned out. You spend a lot of time at full throttle here and there are lots of corners where you exit under extremely hard acceleration. We knew it was going to be close but when he started the last lap we were hoping he would finish the race. So when we saw him stopping we pretty much knew it couldn’t be anything other than running out of fuel. It was also close for Andrea too because his bike stopped just after the finish. Cal knew the fuel consumption was going to be tight so he rode the sighting lap and warm-up lap as slow as he could to save fuel, so there was absolutely nothing else he could have done.”
Crutchlow was remarkably upbeat despite his last lap agony and he said: “Of course I am gutted but there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it. I’d rather something like that happen when I’m fighting for the podium than being nowhere. It was a great battle with Alvaro and that’s what the fans want to see. They want to be entertained and I think both of us did that and it was a shame that I couldn’t take the fight right to the very end. It’s a tough one because even fourth would have been a great result considering how rubbish I was here last year and the weekend didn’t start off well. What makes it really disappointing is dropping back to fifth in the championship. I was really wanting that top five finish and while it is not over it has certainly made it harder to achieve.”