Looking Back At 2013 - Rating The Riders: 5th, Cal Crutchlow, 8/10
The fifth part of our series looking back at 2013 sees us turn to Cal Crutchlow. Here's a perspective on his 2013 season. You can catch up with this series here: part 1, Marc Marquez; part 2, Jorge Lorenzo; part 3, Dani Pedrosa; and part 4, Valentino Rossi.
|Cal Crutchlow||Monster Tech 3 Yamaha|
In 2011, Monster Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal cursed the day he signed Cal Crutchlow to a two-year contract. The 2010 World Supersport champion was struggling to get to grips with MotoGP, finding the tires harder to deal with and the level of competition higher than he expected. In 2012, Poncharal's took back most of what he said about the Englishman, and in 2013, Crutchlow rewarded Poncharal's patience in spades.
This was the year of the great British motorcycle racing revival. Cal Crutchlow looked like being the first Brit to win a premier class race since Barry Sheene in 1981, and Scott Redding looked like being the first British Grand Prix champion since Sheene in 1977. Neither man would succeed in their objective, but they generated a surge of enthusiasm for the sport back in their home country.
Crutchlow was brilliant in the early part of the season, taking podiums at Le Mans, Mugello, Assen and the Sachsenring. In Germany, he tore up his forearms after crashing in the gravel at Turn 11, the fast right hander which caught so many riders out in 2013. He would carry that injury for the rest of the year, fluid building up in his forearms over the course of each race weekend, and never really draining properly.
That crash set Crutchlow back a little, his confidence knocked. He had a poor race at Laguna Seca, and another at Indianapolis, despite receiving the chassis upgrades he had been asking Yamaha for since the start of the year. The new chassis saw the fuel tank moved further back, and was meant to help the bike brake early in the race with a full tank. The gains were not as great as Crutchlow had hoped for, and the Tech 3 man ended the year wishing he had stuck with the chassis he had started the season with.
At Silverstone, Crutchlow suffered the curse of the British home rider (a curse which appears only to affect MotoGP, as Scott Redding won the Moto2 race), crashing heavily during warm up, then again having a poor race to finish seventh. Slowly, he built his confidence again, ending the season more upbeat than he began, but he never recovered the blistering form he showed in the first part of 2013.
Was Crutchlow's slump in the second half of the season related to the contract negotiations which saw him end up at Ducati? Crutchlow himself is adamant that it was not. Speculation over his future started early on in the season, when rumors first emerged that Yamaha had signed Pol Espargaro for 2014 at the first race of 2013 in Qatar. Ducati spent the spring and early summer courting Crutchlow, eventually signing him up after Laguna Seca. Given that Crutchlow had a strong first half of the year and weaker second half, the uncertainty surrounding his contract situation appears not to have had much effect on the Englishman. He faces a much tougher challenge in 2014, however, when he actually has to ride the Ducati.
The trip to Holland and Germany would prove to be the high point of Cal Crutchlow's season. Though he could not quite stick with Valentino Rossi, he fought a fierce battle with Marc Marquez for most of the race at Assen. Two weeks later, Crutchlow went one better, keeping Marquez in sight for a large part of the race at the Sachsenring, but not quite having the pace to match him.
Cal Crutchlow's season started to go south in Germany. The crash at the Sachsenring badly damaged his forearms, and though he had an excellent race, it would be his last podium of the year. Struggling at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis, he vowed to make amends at Silverstone. A crash during warm up put an end to any hopes of a podium, Crutchlow limping home in seventh, 26 seconds behind the winner, Jorge Lorenzo. One year he will have a strong race at Silverstone, but 2013 was not that year.