Cal Crutchlow is hoping to finish the 2011 MotoGP season as top rookie with just Sunday's Valencia Grand Prix remaining. The Briton leads Karel Abraham by a single point ahead of this weekend's finale and admits it would be a satisfying achievement if he can hold off the Czech rider.
Crutchlow will take on the role of team leader with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Colin Edwards recovering from a dislocated shoulder but he admits his overwhelming emotions will be sadness as the paddock remembers the late Marco Simoncelli.
“This weekend isn’t going to be easy for anybody in the paddock after Marco’s accident in Malaysia, but racing is the best way we can honour him and I’m sure that is definitely what he would have wanted. MotoGP lost an amazing character and a phenomenally gifted rider and my thoughts and prayers are with Marco’s family and friends. All of us will go out this weekend determined to put on a good show that Marco would be proud of. I also want to wish Colin a speedy recovery and I’m looking forward to seeing him back on track soon.”
“Valencia was the first place I rode the Yamaha YZR-M1 a year ago and I’ve come on leaps and bounds since then, so hopefully I can finish the season on a high. The Rookie of the Year title is at stake and I’ll be proud to win it after a close battle with Karel all season. I’m also looking forward to testing the new Yamaha 1000cc bike next week. The bike has been very impressive in Brno and Misano and I’m really excited to see what 2012 has in store.”
Crutchlow will be joined by double AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes in Valencia as the American steps in for the injured Edwards. The 36 year old is keeping his expectations under control but hopes to honour Simoncelli and the absent Edwards by performing well this weekend.
“I would like to say a huge thanks to Yamaha US, GYTR, the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Team, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and Lin Jarvis from Yamaha Motor Racing for giving me this opportunity to race in Valencia. The circumstances leading to me being given this chance to ride the Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP machine are not how I would have chosen at all. My aim will be to represent Yamaha and Monster Energy in the best way I possibly can while trying to do Marco and Colin proud. Obviously I am facing a huge challenge having to learn a new circuit while also trying to adapt to the bike and the Bridgestone tyres as quickly as I possibly can. I honestly don’t have any expectations going into the weekend other than to enjoy myself and do a good job for Yamaha and Tech 3. I am certainly very excited to experience Yamaha’s MotoGP bike for the first time and be part of the final race in the 800cc era.”