Cal Crutchlow became the first British rider to win a premier class Grand Prix in 35 years with a masterful display in wet conditions at Brno. The LCR Honda rider took the bold decision to start on harder wet tyres, against the conventional wisdom of the rest of the grid, and that choice paid off handsomely as he saw off Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez.
The race took a while to take shape as the two strategies played themselves out but in the early stages, a trio of Ducatis fought for the lead with Crutchlow and Rossi tumbling out of the top ten. Andrea Iannone charged his way through into the lead on lap four with teammate Andrea Dovizioso slotting in behind but Scott Redding was looking particularly racy in third having dispensed with Marquez and the Briton soon sliced past Dovizioso to take second.
Five laps in, Crutchlow trailed the leading group by eight seconds having just passed Rossi for twelfth but the Briton’s harder tyres, front and rear, were beginning to come into their own as the softer rubber fell apart in drying conditions. By lap ten, Cal had caught the second group being led by Marquez and passed Danilo Petrucci for eighth but the sight of a touring Dovizioso promoted him to seventh, the soft front tyre on the no.4 crying enough.
With such an advantage in terms of grip, Crutchlow made short work of the two Suzukis and Marquez’s Honda to take fourth but a trio of Ducatis still lied ahead of him, Hector Barbera having jumped across the gap to Iannone and Redding. The Pramac rider’s tyres were the next to wear away, allowing Crutchlow and Barbera to ease past, but with the LCR rider encountering no such troubles, Iannone was powerless to keep him at bay when Cal attacked for the lead six laps from home.
As the no.35 checked out, attention switched to Rossi who was also making rapid progress thanks to his harder rear Michelin. Redding’s demise had promoted him to fifth before Marquez surrendered fourth at turn thirteen, the same corner the championship leader had scythed past Rossi in qualifying. Barbera offered little resistance in the battle for third on lap 18 and within a matter of corners, Iannone was also dispensed with, the tyres on the no.29 looking second-hand, bordering on unsafe.
Crutchlow’s tyres were in superb condition though and the Briton was rewarded with a maiden MotoGP success, seven seconds clear of Rossi while Marquez rallied late on to snatch the final rostrum spot. Loris Baz, another rider to choose the harder rubber, made sensational progress in the closing stages to take fourth, equalling his career-best, with Avintia teammate Barbera relegated to fifth. Eugene Laverty was another rider to finish strongly, beating Petrucci to sixth, while Iannone slipped all the way to eighth, narrowly holding off Vinales’ Suzuki.
Jorge Lorenzo, the pre-race favourite before rain fell on Sunday morning, fell out of the points altogether having taken the same strategic decision as Rossi but an ambitious gamble to switch bikes mid-race took him out of contention completely. The reigning champion was lapped in seventeenth and has now lost second in the championship to his teammate.
2016 HJC Helmets Grand Prix Ceske Republiky (Race Result)
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