CAL ON TOP!
Brit wins in Argentina to take series lead
While his factory rivals lost the plot around him, Cal Crutchlow once again staked his claim as Britain’s best with a stunning victory in Sunday’s Argentine Grand Prix – becoming the first Brit since Barry Sheene in 1979 to lead the premier class championship race.
Backing up strong pre-season form and coming only two weeks after he just missed out on a podium in the opening race of the season in Qatar, Crutchlow’s third premier class victory with the LCR Honda squad was a very different win from his previous two.
Coming not thanks to tricky conditions but due to outright pace, the Isle of Man resident told MCN that Sunday’s victory has a very different taste to it from his previous Motogp successes.
He said: “We’ve had pace all winter, we had pace in Qatar and we had pace in Argentina so the win came as not that much of a surprise. I spoke to Lucy before the race and she told me ‘you can easily be on the podium and you can win,’ and with two laps of the race to go I realised that I was going to be very hard to beat.
“Up until today my Phillip Island win was my best because I dominated the race and Brno is deep in my heart because it was my first, but Sunday’s race was a lot more expected. I had a good advantage all weekend and I had good pace in the race, which left me in a great position to not have to take too many risks while still being able to win the race. If I’d needed to, I could have gone to the front and ridden away, but I didn’t need to because I knew where I could make my overtakes.”
Letting Jack Miller, Alex Rins and Johann Zarco scrap for the lead while sitting confidently behind them, Crutchlow was able to strike in the closing laps to take the win. And, after talking the talk about potentially being a championship contender before the season, the victory means that he’s now walking the walk.
“I still don’t think that I can just say ‘let’s go win the title’ because of the resources that the factory have. Honda continue to help me, but I still think it would be a big ask to win it because it’s so close. I don’t feel any different leading the championship – I didn’t even know until well after the race. It’s good for the team, but it doesn’t mean that I go to Texas with any higher expectations that I would have had.”
It also once again opens up speculation about his future despite coming only days after Crutchlow shut down talk of him taking Dani Pedrosa’s seat at Repsol Honda. With the Spaniard reportedly in talks to leave Honda after a decade, Pedrosa’s departure could open the door for Crutchlow.
“You can see that I’m able to ride the bike in a good way, and it’s more that I think if you put someone else like Zarco on the bike to replace Dani they’d struggle a lot more than I would. To put anyone but a Honda rider on it would be difficult. Dani is still a great rider and it’s a shame that he crashed, but we had better pace and the upper hand over him all weekend.”
Cal pounced in the closing stages to beat Zarco and Rins Cal is greeted with a hero’s welcome in parc ferme