MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Enjoy Cal while you can: Crutchlow retirement looms
Cal Crutchlow looks likely to retire at the end of next season because he’s in a lot of pain, which is no big surprise for someone who’s had more than 150 MotoGP crashes
Cal Crutchlow most likely has another 27 races to go before he hangs up his lid and leathers.
If he does retire at the end of next season it will be a significant moment for British motorcycle racing, because the Coventry-born rider is the greatest British grand prix rider of the last generation or two and the seventh most successful Briton in grand prix history.
The only riders from these isles to have won more premier-class GPs are Mike Hailwood, Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Barry Sheene, Phil Read and Les Graham, winner of the inaugural 1949 500cc world championship.
Three MotoGP victories isn’t a huge number, but Crutchlow has achieved these successes during grand prix racing’s most competitive era, while riding for a non-factory team, unlike the six Britons ahead of him in the list, who all rode for factory teams: Hailwood (MV Agusta and Honda), Duke (Norton and Gilera), Surtees (MV), Sheene (Suzuki), Read (MV) and Graham (MV).
In 2009 Crutchlow won the World Supersport title and the following year scored his first World Superbike victories, so he could’ve had a lucrative career in WSB, but at the end of 2010 he decided to risk it all in MotoGP, an unhappy hunting ground for British riders since the days of Sheene.
During the 33 seasons between 1949 and 1981 British riders won 135 premier-class GPs. During the 37 seasons since then, British riders have won three premier-class GPs; all of them Crutchlow’s.
The story is a bit different in World Superbike: in the 31 seasons since the creation of the street-based championship, British riders have won 250 WSB races, more than twice as many as any other nation. WSB has long been a British-dominated championship because Britain started racing streetbikes before the rest of Europe. In 1985 the MCN Superstock championship was created and immediately became Britain’s number-one race series, so when WSB started in 1988 British riders were already in the streetbike groove, while Italy, Spain, Japan and so on were still focused on 500cc and 250cc GP bikes.
Therefore Crutchlow stepped right out of his comfort zone in 2011. And since he graduated to the class of kings, he has done things no other British rider has done in almost 40 years: win races in the premier class and lead the premier world championship.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.