Stunning front row start and 4th place finish for Cal
Cal on board his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike made a fantastic start to the 2012 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar, with Cal Crutchlow claiming a richly deserved 4th place finish to start the new 1000cc era.
Starting from the front row of the grid for the first time in his MotoGP career, Cal and team mate Italian Dovizioso were locked in an enthralling battle for the entire 22-lap encounter, which took place under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights.
Cal didn't get the best start from third place on the grid but he brilliantly found a quick rhythm and his best lap of 1.55.984 on lap three was the second fastest of the race and quicker than eventual winner Jorge Lorenzo. Only Casey Stoner went faster in the race.
By the end of the first lap he was in fifth place and right on the tail of Dovizioso, who made a lightning start from the second row of the grid to move into fourth spot.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders were never apart for more than 0.3s for almost the entire race, with Dovizioso expertly fending intense pressure from Cal with some superb aggressive riding.
Cal though displayed outstanding consistency and never gave Dovizioso a moment to relax and the British rider made his decisive attack for fourth on lap 17.
Dovizioso remained in hot pursuit but despite his best efforts he could not find a way to recover fourth from a determined Crutchlow, who maintained an impressively fast and consistent as the grip from his Bridgestone tyres decreased.
The result equalled Cal's best finish from last season and was an outstanding team result with Cal finishing leading non-factory rider and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team occupies third position in the Team World Championship standings heading to the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez at the end of April.
Cal's post race thoughts
“That was a great way to start the season but it was a really tough race. I didn't make a great start and lost a few positions and that is a bit disappointing because I'm sure I could have been much closer to the top three."
"I wouldn't have been fighting with them but I lost a bit of time and the gap to them could have been halved."
"It was a great battle with Andrea and I enjoyed it. I learned a lot as well because he has a lot of experience and it was a game of cat and mouse for a long time. I knew I could pass him but I also knew that he would be able to sit right on my tail, so I just waited for the right moment and made a good move on Andrea."
"After that I just got my head down and concentrated on being consistent and not making a mistake so I didn't give him a chance to pass me back."
"The good thing about tonight is I backed up all the good performances in winter testing and being close to the front with my best MotoGP race. I know I was fourth in Valencia last season but the conditions were tricky and not everybody finished. This was a true result and I am delighted too for my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew. They have given me amazing support and this result gives us all a lot of confidence to take to Jerez.”
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“That was a fantastic way for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team to start the 2012 season and Cal and Andrea both did a fantastic job. To watch them both fighting so hard together for the whole race meant I was quite nervous and there was never more than three-tenths between them. I have to congratulate both of them because they treated each other with a lot of respect and neither of them even looked like making a mistake that could have changed the outcome for the Team. To see Cal and Andrea in fourth and fifth is a result I would have signed for before the start of the race and this gives everyb ody a big boost for the next few races. Both of them tonight were able to show the potential of the Yamaha YZR-M1 1000cc machine and I want to congratulate Yamaha's technical staff. All through the winter we have been confident the new M1 is very competitive but tonight really proved that. Jorge once again did an incredible job and with Cal and Andrea both in the top five, it was an excellent way to start the season for Yamaha. All of us in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team will fly home happy and that is a great reward for all of their hard work.”