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Cal Crutchlow at the 2016 GoPro Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland
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Crutchlow stars in German MotoGP wet-dry dance

Jul 202016

There are few circuits on the MotoGP calendar like Sachsenring. The annual trip for the series to Germany means capacity crowds, camber corners, climate inconsistency and the odd spot of carnage around the short, twisty and demanding layout. All those elements came together for the second wet Grand Prix of the season and on a slippery stage in which Marc Marquez triumphed for the seventh year in a row across all classes and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow snared his first podium finish of 2016 and for over a year by earning second spot.

Germany ‘wet the head’ of a new five year deal to keep MotoGP in the bike-mad region of central Europe but the skies were not kind to the Sachsenring and the emblematic, controversial and immensely difficult Turn 11, christened ‘The Waterfall’, was aptly monikered for this ninth chase of the campaign.

Over 93,000 damp fans were left gripped by changing scenes. Danilo Petrucci led the opening stages of the thirty-lap sprint and on fully wet asphalt as Valentino Rossi hung in a group tussling for podium positions. Tyre choice was critical and with decent temperatures helping to dry the track - as the rain finally relented - a very thin dry line started to form. Suddenly the pitlane was busy. Riders dashed into swap machinery; the brave and bold emerging back on track with slick tyres and others with ‘intermediates’ that were still slower than the optimum rubber.

 

“My first thought is that it’s great to have a podium but my second thought is that it's a shame I didn't win; Marc got lucky again! Seriously though, I felt great on the bike this weekend,” ‘35’ said. “We made a great job with the tyre choice when I finally pitted…but you always have that question mark afterwards: what if I had pitted earlier? I didn't look at my pitboard, I looked at the two guys in front of me who were [Andrea Dovizioso] Dovi and Vale [Rossi] and I knew they had the experience to be at the front in MotoGP and I followed them. I was happy where I was and with my pace; I felt I could pass them. Anyway it was a great job by my team. It takes balls to ride with slicks and I took advantage. It has been a difficult year so far and we know our bike has been difficult to ride but we also know Honda have been putting in a great effort, and in the last races we have been more comfortable on the bike and it is getting better. I hope in the second half of the year we can back up this result.”

 

Crutchlow celebrated, and will now head with most of the MotoGP grid to a two-day test in Austria next week (“I’m looking forward to going there and taking my Monster cans…”) before dashing home to become a father for the first time together with wife Lucy. “I left for here as late as possible and will get back as soon as I can,” he commented. “It was only the second time in nine years she [Lucy] has not been here and she works as hard for me as
I do to win in MotoGP. It has been a tough weekend without her here but we are dead-excited to have our first baby.”

Rossi paid for his hesitation to switch motorcycles and also for the election of intermediates. The Italian still picked up points for eighth position. “It is a great shame because we could have been competitive in the dry and even today I thought we worked well for the wet and we should have been fighting for victory,” the Yamaha man said. “I was very slow on the intermediate tyre in the second part of the race when it was getting dry. If I stopped earlier then it wouldn't have changed a lot; maybe I could have arrived to sixth place. I had no feeling with the bike when I changed. If we could go back in time then it would have been interesting to try the slick but on paper the slick could also have been more difficult.”

 

With Marquez’s victory Rossi now faces a chasm of 59 points to the top of the standings. “I think it is very difficult,” the former multi champion admitted. “In these first races I did not take the amount of points I know I could have because I made some mistakes. The distance with Marquez and the top is very high but the championship is long and we need to work to be competitive and make the maximum.”

 

World Champion Jorge Lorenzo endured one of his hardest weekends in recent years. The Movistar Yamaha rider crashed three times during Friday and Saturday practice and qualification. “We lost our way a little bit…it is not normal that I make three mistakes,” the Spaniard said on Saturday evening. Faced with the second rainy race in a row Lorenzo lacked confidence with his tyres and set-up. He was another on intermediates as he managed to bring the M1 home in fifteenth meaning a difference of 48 points to his countryman in the MotoGP table. “The championship is not finished while we all have mathematical options to win,” he said, mindful that Germany only represents the midpoint of the 2016 term. “Anything can happen and we saw Marc crash in warm-up and he was lucky not to get injured. We have to keep positive and believe that this is possible. We have to recover the confidence and good results that we don't have. The last two races have been very bad for us for different circumstances.”

Monster Tech3 duo Bradley Smith (thirteenth but restricted by his left knee slider being knocked off) and Pol Espargaro (a crashee in wet conditions) had their own adventures in Germany.

MotoGP heads into a three-week summer ‘pause’ with the prospect of a first trip to Austria this century up next on the slate on August 13-14.

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