35 Years Later

Today, I witnessed a nice little bit of history. In fact, we all did. Cal Crutchlow stormed to his first Grand Prix victory in the most peculiar circumstances I think I have ever seen for a premier class race. He saw off Valentino Rossi who finished a miraculous second and Marc Marquez, who defied the odds to come home with the bronze medal.

In a race of two halves (quite literally), the Ducati riders of Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone and Scott Redding took off at the front, building up a comfortable margin over Marc Marquez, Hector Barbera, Pol Espargaro, Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro. The two Factory Movistar Yamahas were down in 12th and 13th after lap one. I said at the time that it’s a total disaster and that Vale and Jorge need to come in to change.

Also joining the two Yamaha’s down there were Loris Baz, Eugene Laverty, Yonny Hernandez, the two Aprilias, Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith. However, the latter few started to move up whilst Valentino and Jorge stayed put.

Soon though, it became apparent that the softer tyres that had been favoured by the majority of the field weren’t going to last the 22 laps and soon, the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso run off track at turn one, slamming his hands on the tank as he came back on. The issue was that the front tyre had completely shredded. Dovi headed back to pitlane and after a head to head with a team member, reluctantly jumped on a bike with intermediate tyres on.

Iannone and Redding then did battle, but it was Avintia Ducati’s Hector Barbera that was now on their tail.

Meanwhile, down in 9th, Cal Crutchlow set the fastest lap, with him and Rossi making great progress, albeit around 1.5 seconds apart.

The next revelation was Bradley Smith, who also had front tyre issues as he waltzed around the track. He came in, and switched to his second bike which was fitted with dry tyres. He quickly returned to the garage and swapped back to inters.

Jorge Lorenzo was languishing way down in 16th but he just set his fastest lap of the race. Strangely, the defending champion pitted to change tyres as he believed the hard front and rear combination wasn’t working. His team was furious, and sent him back out with a disillusioned Jorge clearly frustrated. He came in again not long after, refusing to go back out. It really was a shambles, just like it was for 2017 and 2018 teammate Andrea Dovizioso.

Out on track and the hard tyres were coming good as Crutchlow and Rossi closed in on the leading quartet. Soon, it became clear that Iannone was struggling, and as Cal picked his way past the likes of Barbera, Marquez and Redding, Rossi was now right in the hunt.

Cal took the lead from Iannone and never looked back, with Rossi scything his way through the pack. It proved impossible to catch Cal as he had the perfect set up on his bike, whilst Valentino opted for a soft front end. Iannone dropped back to eighth place, with Marquez completing the podium.

Newly contracted Loris Baz equalled his best result of his MotoGP career with a sensational 4th place, beating teammate Hector Barbera who finished 5th. Eugene Laverty rocketed through into 6th place, almost catching Barbera on the line. Danilo Petrucci finished 7th ahead of Iannone, with Maverick Vinales and Tito Rabat completing the top 10.

Yonny Hernandez came home 11th ahead of the last Honda rider Dani Pedrosa. Pol Espargaro, Bradl and Scott Redding rounded out the point-scorers, after Scott’s tyres also decided to give up towards the latter stages. Bautista was 16th ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, who was the final finisher. I think it would be fair to say that Lorenzo has lost the plot when it comes to wet weather.

Without doubt one of the most upside down races in MotoGP history, where patience and precision would prevail over desperation and initial pace. Great Britain, back on top for the first time since Barry Sheene at Anderstorp, Sweden, 1981. A truly remarkable day which will be celebrated long into the night by the team, family and friends of Cal Crutchlow, not to mention his fans!

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