Cal Crutchlow will get a hero’s welcome when he returns home to Silverstone after he ended one of the longest droughts in British sport.
Crutchlow wrote his name in British motorsport folklore when he became the first rider since late legend Barry Sheene to win a premier class World Championship race.
Sheene’s triumph at Anderstorp in Sweden way back in 1981 was four years before Crutchlow was even born.
But a long 35-year wait for British success in the elite level of world motorcycle competition finally came to an end when Crutchlow took a glorious debut win in a rain-hit Brno race in the Czech Republic.
In a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the Isle of Man-based 30-year-old, Crutchlow has now finished on the podium in two of the last three races in what has been an incredible six weeks for him both on and off the track.
Not only has Crutchlow broke Britain’s long run without success in Motogp, but he has also recently become a father for the first time when wife Lucy gave birth to daughter Willow.
Crutchlow said: “Life doesn’t really get much better than this. I could never have imagined having a few weeks like this. I was over the moon to get back on the podium in Germany just before Willow was born, but to now win in Motogp and be mentioned in the same breath as a legend like Barry Sheene is amazing. I feel I should have won in Motogp before Brno and not made the British fans wait as long as they have for a British winner in the premier class, but it’s a super special feeling and it was definitely worth the wait.”
Crutchlow’s stunning success in Brno should ensure a bumper crowd at the British Grand Prix and is he looking forward to racing at Silverstone as a Motogp winner.
And he added: “It will be nice coming to Silverstone knowing that finally I’m a Motogp winner. I’ve always had unbelievable support from the British fans, so it will be nice to see them happy after my win in Brno. It is very hard to win in Motogp and you have to take the opportunity when it presents itself and I’m happy to have finally taken one. Thirty five years is a long time to wait, so I’m hoping the British fans don’t have to wait so long again for another Motogp win!”
Ironically, when Crutchlow completed a double World Superbike win at Silverstone in 2010, it paved the way for him to become Britain’s most successful premier class rider since Sheene. Since that glorious day secured him a seat in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad, Silverstone has battered, bruised and nearly broken him.
A broken left collarbone ruled him out in 2011. A broken left ankle then forced him to ride from the back of the grid to a heroic sixth in 2012.
And last year he was looking strong to battle for the podium in wet conditions when LCR Honda teammate Jack Miller torpedoed him out of contention.
He said: “Even though I’ve had such bad results, I do actually look forward to racing at Silverstone. I’ve only ever had one decent result and that was in 2012 when I came from the back of the grid to sixth with a broken ankle. I didn’t even think I was going to be able to race and the reception I got at the end was incredible. I never thought a sixth place would make so many people so happy.”
Having returned to the podium for the first time in over a year in Germany last month and then winning at Brno, Crutchlow is hoping those results can be the catalyst to finally bury his British GP demons.
He added: “Every year I go there I think it is going to turn around. Last year never turned around, though Jack turned me around! Silverstone has got to bring me some luck sooner or later. Before Germany and Brno it was quite a disappointing season. We know the Honda is a difficult bike to ride and it hasn’t been easy for any of us apart from Marc (Marquez). But we have to get on with it and go as fast as we can with we’ve got. I’ve been riding well all year and now my confidence is high.”
Crutchlow’s biggest problem at Silverstone this year might not be coping with the extra pressure and demands on and off the track, but getting some sleep!
He became a father for the first time in the recent summer break and he said: “From morning to night you are thinking about how to go faster and then there are lots of other commitments on top. I’ll be arriving later than usual now I’m a daddy. I’ve got a plan to sleep that weekend and I’ve also got a contingency plan as well!”
Jack attack! Luckless Crutchlow got wiped out by team-mate Miller in 2015