Cal Crutchlow is confident he will realise his ambition of standing on a MotoGP podium sooner rather than later after coming agonizingly close to doing so in Spain last weekend. The Briton finished right on the tail of Dani Pedrosa and just 2.4 seconds behind the eventual winner, giving him cause to believe that a podium finish is closer than ever.
“That was a seriously hard race but I really enjoyed it and I am really happy to have finished so close to the podium. One of the pleasing aspects is that I don’t really like Jerez that much. It’s a little bit twisty for my riding style and it is only the second time I have raced here, so to come away with a fourth and been within touching distance of my first MotoGP podium is fantastic. The Yamaha YZR-M1 was working incredibly well today and I can’t say enough about my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew. It has been a difficult weekend with the weather but they gave me a great bike today and our decision to run the hard front was definitely the right one.”
“I was fourth in Qatar but today I could actually see the winner and there is no reason why I can’t be up there battling for the podium from now on. There will still be some races where I won’t be that close to the podium but now I know we can be there. I gave it everything I had to pass Dani but there was nothing I could do. He is phenomenal round this track, so I’m happy to have challenged him so closely. But he was the better rider today and it was really hard to stay with him. I set the fastest lap of the race though, so that proves the progress I’ve made since last season.”
As in Qatar, Andrea Dovizioso was fifth on the second Tech 3 Yamaha but the Italian couldn't keep up with his teammate this time. Dovizioso admits he has learned from the riding style of Crutchlow and expects to be getting more and more speed out of the YZR-M1 as the season progresses.
“It has been a very tricky weekend because I don’t particularly like this track and while I am not completely comfortable with the Yamaha YZR-M1 machine it means I struggled quite a lot. What I need more than anything is time in the dry to improve my performance and show what I know I am capable of. I am really happy with my start today and for the first laps of the race I was able to fight in the leading group and this helped collect a lot of information that will help me improve in the future.”
“It was very interesting following Cal because he is still much faster than me entering the corner and I need to adapt my style more to take profit in this area, which is the strong point of the Yamaha. I also made the wrong choice with the front tyre. I wanted to race with the hard one like Cal but I changed on the grid to the soft option as all the top guys selected the softer tyre. But from the middle of the race I couldn’t maintain my pace to stay with Cal and Dani. It was still a positive experience with everything I learned, so I am looking forward to hopefully a completely dry weekend in Estoril.”
Team Manager Herve Poncharal paid tribute to Crutchlow and expects him to be a regular contender at the front of a Grand Prix field from now on.
“What more can you say about Cal? Considering this was only his third time at Jerez and how much experience Pedrosa has riding here, he did a phenomenal job. When you finish right behind a rider of Pedrosa’s calibre in his home race, you know you have delivered an outstanding performance and Cal did that. He never gave Pedrosa one moment to relax and there is nothing more he could have done to try and get on the podium. There are so many positive points when you think that he was less than 2.5s behind Casey at the front and he set the fastest lap of the race. This shows he’s made incredible progress since last season and I’m sure we are going to be seeing a lot more of Cal challenging at the front in the future.”
“Andrea didn’t have the same exciting race as Cal but I am still happy with his performance. It is clear he needs more time to adjust to the Yamaha, but we know he has the talent and experience to do this, so it is only going to be a matter of time before he is battling for the podium. Today he went the wrong way with the front tyre choice, but that can happen sometimes and it is part of the learning process. He rode very aggressively in the first 10 laps, so it was fantastic to see both Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bikes battling for the podium. We have made a brilliant start to 2012 and confidence is very high, so we are looking forward to Cal and Andrea fighting for the podium in Estoril in a few days time.”