AN ECSTATIC Cal Crutchlow became the first British rider in 35 years to seal a MotoGP victory after crossing the finish line first at the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic.
The Coventry-born rider was peerless in the treacherous conditions as he took his and the LCR Honda Team’s first-ever victory in the MotoGP class.
In doing so, Crutchlow became the first Brit to seal a premier class win since Barry Sheene ran out victorious in the Swedish GP of 1981.
Crutchlow’s win comes at a fitting moment, just two weeks after the birth of his first child Willow, and two weeks before the next round of the MotoGP World Championship, at Silverstone in the UK.
“This win means a lot to me,” said Crutchlow. “I thought the feeling might be different, but after having become a Dad two weeks ago, nothing matches that.
“Don’t get me wrong though, I haven’t won a race for many years, maybe six or seven, so it’s been a long time and it’s something really, really special.
“I’m pleased to be the British rider that’s broken the run, especially after some of the stick I’ve had. I’m also so pleased for my LCR Honda Team, because I wrecked a bike during practice and they were working until midnight to get it ready for me. So to repay them with this win is great – they never give up.”
The historic day came amidst tricky weather at the Brno circuit, with rain falling all day but stopping just before the MotoGP race.
Crutchlow and his LCR Honda Team took the gamble of fitting a hard wet tyre to the front and rear of his bike, only one of two riders to do so, and despite having taken time to get up to pace, it soon became the combination to be on.
Having started in tenth place on the grid, Crutchlow was down to 15th by the end of lap three, but he was soon on the move, passing riders at will before hitting the front with just over seven laps remaining.
The Brit never looked in trouble and came across the line with a huge stand-up wheelie to celebrate, over seven-seconds clear of his nearest challenger, Valentino Rossi.
“Victory has been a long time coming and I was emotional on the cool-down lap,” Crutchlow added. “I was playing with them in the end though, I knew I had made the right tyre choice on the grid and pushed when I needed to push. I’m ecstatic.”