Top 10 for battling Crutchlow at Motorland Aragon
Cal Crutchlow produced one of his best performances of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship this afternoon, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider claiming a richly deserved ninth place in blustery conditions at the Motorland Aragon track.
But it was a frustrating 23-lap race for Colin Edwards, who won't remember his landmark 150th MotoGP with fond memories after he finished in 13th position.
Crutchlow quickly found his pace after losing time in the braking zone at the first corner and his charge into the top 10 kicked off when he claimed 11th place from Edwards on the fourth lap.
He then launched an immediate attack on Hiroshi Aoyama and Toni Elias, pas sing both with masterful overtakes to claim ninth on lap six. Nine times world champion Valentino Rossi then dropped the British rider back into 10th on lap seven.
From that stage of the race until its conclusion 16 laps later, Crutchlow was involved in the most exciting battle on track in front of a windswept crowd of over 63,000 fans. The 25-year-old, Rossi and Aoyama were barely split by more than a second and as their intense fight reached an exciting climax, Crutchlow produced a brilliant attacking display.
He passed Rossi and Aoyama on lap 18 and despite coming under intense pressure from the more experienced duo, he managed to keep them at bay to claim his best result since the Catalunya race in early June.
The seven valuable points collected today moved Crutchlow two places up the World Championship rankings into 13th position and he moved back ahead of Karel Abraham in th e coveted Rookie of the Year classification.
The race proved to be a difficult affair for Edwards, who struggled to find the right set-up to give him the rear grip he needed to push with his normal confidence. He made more weight distribution modifications to his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine ahead of the race, but the tweaks didn't have the desired effect and he finished in 13th.
Position 9th - Time +39.652
“I'm really pleased with how the race went today because I was back inside the top and having a really good and enjoyable fight with two of the best riders on the grid, who have had a lot of success in Grand Prix racing. It is a shame that I lost a couple of places at the first corner because I'm sure with a better start I could have been battling with Bautista and Hayden. I got on the inside on the d irty part of the track and when I braked I locked the front wheel and nearly crashed. What pleases me the most is that I could make up for the lack of speed on the straight in the corners because the Yamaha handles brilliantly and my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team gave me a really good bike today. But to hold off Valentino and Hiroshi at the end took a massive effort. I think if they'd started the final lap in front of me on the straight it would have been hard for me to slipstream. There are a lot of positives to take from this weekend because I've got back in the top 10 on a track I'd never seen before and beaten two guys with a lot more experience than me. I gained a lot of experience today riding with Valentino and that has given me a lot of confidence for the next few races.”
Position 13th - Time +58.430
“That certainly wasn't a great way to celebrate my 150th race in MotoGP. We tried to get the bike right all weekend but we were pretty much chasing our tails the whole time. We were trying to improve the rear grip to compensate for the speed we lose on the straight and for the race we altered the weight distribution again. We put a lot of weight on the rear but it never really worked. After about five laps the grip just went down and I wasn't expecting it to drop off that quickly. Once that happened I couldn't stay in that group I was in and I just went backwards. If somebody gave me 10 million Euros to do a 1.51 right now, there is no way I could do it. The last two races have been pretty tough, so we'll get our heads together and try and come up with a solution for Japan and aim to be fighting back in the top 10 where I have been all season.”
Hervé Poncharal - Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
"I am really pleased to see Cal back in the top 10 and ridi ng with the same confidence that he showed in the first part of the season. I think it was the best ride of the year for him. Maybe not in terms of the final position, but the way he rode was fantastic. The start was difficult, but he never gave up and what was really good is that he was riding with Valentino and Hiroshi and he would have learned a lot from those two. Today he could battle with a nine times World Champion and I'm sure that will do a lot for his confidence in the future. He didn't only race with them but he beat them and that makes it even more satisfying. With a better start it is not unrealistic to imagine he could have been with Bautista and Hayden, but ninth position is still a very positive result. It was a difficult weekend for Colin and definitely not the way any of us wanted to mark his 150th MotoGP race. He took a gamble on the set-up and he also used the soft front tyre and unfortunately this time it didn't pay off. All he could do was finish and ge t some points and we hope he can quickly forget this weekend and return to the form we know he is capable of in Japan.”