Cal Crutchlow was delighted to finish his debut MotoGP season with his best ever result, securing the rookie of the year award in the process. After a four-bike pile-up at the first corner, the Briton moved up to fifth and won a race-long battle with rival Karel Abraham, with contact on the last lap sending the Czech rider into the gravel.
Crutchlow also overhauled Dani Pedrosa on the last lap as the Spaniard struggled with the late rain shower and described fourth place as a “great way to start planning for 2012”.
“That was a pretty dramatic way to finish the season and I am obviously thrilled to win the Rookie of the Year title. But I’m equally happy to have finished in fourth place because that was an incredibly difficult race. I’m not sure what happened at the first corner but I came out of it in sixth place and just pushed as hard as I could. It was a really intense battle with Karel right to the end and both of us were giving it everything we had. The track was so greasy it felt like you could crash so easily and when the rain started getting heavier I just got my head down again and kept pushing. I started to catch Dani really fast and I wasn’t sure if he had a problem or whether I was pushing too hard. I slowed down because of that and Karel caught me back up, so it came down to the last lap and he obviously made a small mistake. He hit me from behind but I managed to stay on and to finish the season with my best ever result is a great way to start planning for 2012.”
“This year has been an incredible learning experience and we have a lot to work on for next season, but I feel confident I can make the step to the next level. I can hold my held up high and now I am looking forward to getting my first experience of the Yamaha 1000cc bike on Tuesday.”
Teammate Josh Hayes also shone in Valencia, finishing seventh on his MotoGP debut ahead of regular riders including Loris Capirossi and Toni Elias. The American was proud of his performance and hopes to have another opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike in the future.
“It was a very exciting and difficult race but certainly an experience I will never forget. I had a joke with my crew that I should have packed up at lunch after I was fastest in the warm-up! The conditions were really difficult with the rain but riding the Yamaha YZR-M1 with the carbon brakes and Bridgestone tyres was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it. The bike felt perfect each time I went out of the pits and it is a real bonus to finish inside the top 10. It is not exactly how I wanted to do it with so many guys going down at the first corner but I am happy with my race and how I rode. It was a successful race for me and I managed to beat a lot of experienced riders, which is something to be proud of. Riding a MotoGP is definitely something I would like to do again in my career. I want to send a big thank you to everybody who helped me be here. Yamaha US, GYTR, YES and of course HervÃ© Poncharal gave me a great opportunity and everybody has been so nice to me. Hopefully people enjoyed seeing me out on track, because I definitely enjoyed being out there.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team manager Herve Poncharal was delighted to end the season on such a high note and expects Crutchlow to be a stronger rider next year as a result.
“Today’s race was incredibly difficult because the conditions were very tough and it was hard to understand how much grip there was. But I have to say that Cal did an amazing job and I’m really happy he ended his first season in MotoGP with such a positive result. It is never easy to finish so high in MotoGP in such demanding conditions, so he deserves a lot of credit. He was very fast all through the race and it was a fantastic battle with Karel right to the end. For the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team to win the Rookie of the Year title again is an achievement to be proud of, and we hope that the experience gained by Cal in 2011 will help him a lot next season.”
“I can’t praise Josh enough either. He had a lot to cope with this weekend in learning the track and the bike and the conditions made it even more difficult. He is a fast rider but also a great professional. He didn’t make one mistake all weekend and we couldn’t have had a better replacement for Colin Edwards. Finally I would like to say goodbye and a million thanks to Colin. I hope he is recovering well at home with his family and we will see him back on track again soon. Colin has been a fantastic ambassador for Tech 3 an d without doubt the most successful rider we’ve ever had in MotoGP. We will miss him a lot and the memories he has given us will stay with us forever. We wish him all the success in the future with his new adventure.”