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Cal Crutchlow at the 2019 Grand Prix of the Australia
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Crutchlow eases the pain with Australian MotoGP success

Oct 282019

Twelve months ago Cal Crutchlow was facing the prospect of multiple operations on his right ankle, a permanent limp and perhaps the end of his MotoGP career. A tremendously fast crash at Phillip Island’s feared Doohan Corner left the tough Brit with a wrecked right lower limb. Crutchlow underwent careful surgery and a winter-long rehab plan to indeed take his place on the 2019 MotoGP grid; even if the season has been a difficult test of adversity with an unwilling factory Honda.

Last weekend the 33 year old (almost 34) closed the door on his bad memories of the 2018 Australian Motorcycling Grand Prix by taking his third podium finish of 2019 behind Marc Marquez. The Phillip Island ‘bounce’ continued for #35. He won in brilliant fashion in 2016 and was top-five in 2017 before the most serious accident of his long stint in the premier class.

“I think we did a good job after what happened here last year,” he admitted. “Crashes don’t normally phase me: I normally get straight back up and go faster straightaway but that crash last year has haunted me for the whole year.”

“I was not happy coming to this Grand Prix thinking about it and I have never really been injured in that way,” he added. “Especially as it could have been a career-ending crash. I had the surgeon here who performed my operation. He was here this morning and I thanked him for saving my career because - honestly - we didn’t know if I would be able to ride at all. So to have some podiums, and one back at this Grand Prix is very, very special.”


Crutchlow was elevated to second place after Monster Energy Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales went toe-to-toe with Marquez. The Spaniard, who conquered the quick, scary and epic ‘PI’ circuit in 2018, sadly fell out of the running on the last lap. “Actually I'm very happy because I gave my best every single lap but for sure we have things to improve,” MV12 said. “Today was a race to win, not to be second. I had the chance so I tried.”

Season-best results arrived for Pecco Bagnaia in fourth place – the Italian losing out to Pramac Ducati teammate Jack Miller by fractions of a second – and Suzuki’s Joan Mir who finished fifth. Rookie sensation Fabio Quartararo was the victim of a spectacular second corner crash after being hit by the spiralling Danilo Petrucci.

 

Down in eighth position was The Doctor. Not a result to shout about but the Yamaha legend was duly celebrated in Australia for making his 400th Grand Prix start in a never-ending career that stretches all the way back to 1996. “It has been a long, long time, yes, and a long road,” he said prior to the meeting where he holds the record for the biggest number of wins (eight). “It is good to make the 400 here in Phillip Island as it is an iconic place for MotoGP and all the riders love the circuit because it is something special compared to the rest. It is one of the best places.”

“It [to reach 400 races] is something that you don’t expect but in general across my career I never had a clear idea to see what has happened or how long I have raced. When I was 17 I already saw guys that were 25 and it felt like [they were] your grandfather! Now I am 40, imagine! But it is a good achievement which I didn’t expect also because I didn’t know what to expect when I started my career.”

 

A rainy Friday at round seventeen of nineteen marked exactly ten years to the day that Rossi won his ninth, and last, world championship. He briefly gave his fans hope of a first GP win since the 2017 Dutch TT by leading the pack at race #400. “It's good because I did some laps in front and it was a great emotion,” he admitted. “But it was more-or-less similar to [the other] 399! We need more. We need to be stronger. We need to work. But to race in Phillip Island is always great. At the end it was a hard battle.”

Rossi’s landmark was also felt by his peers.

 

“It's a lot, it's a big number,” said one of the Italian’s fiercest rivals, Jorge Lorenzo. “You can see it fast - 400 in one second - but it's many, many weekends there, fighting against everyone, winning a lot of races, a lot of podiums, a lot of pole positions like he did in his career. It's an unbelievable career. And you know, Valentino means a lot for MotoGP in general because of his popularity and his charisma, he helped a lot to make MotoGP what we know now, in terms of popularity and following. About his career, it's unbelievable that at 40 years old, he is fighting against all the young riders and the best riders in the world.”

 

No.401 will come in a matter of days with the third grand prix in a row at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.

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