BRNO, Czech Republic — Britain’s Cal Crutchlow on a Honda took his maiden MotoGP win as he dominated a rain-hit race at Brno in the Czech Republic Sunday.
Italian legend Valentino Rossi claimed second on his Yamaha after finishing more than seven seconds behind the Briton, ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez on a Honda.
With seven races to go, the result leaves Marquez at the top of the overall standings on 197 points, 53 ahead of Rossi.
Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo dropped to third overall, on 138 points, after finishing 17th at Brno and a lap behind as the victim of a poor strategy.
“We did the best job we could today and I’m really, really pleased for my team,” said the 30-year-old Crutchlow, of the independent LCR Honda team.
“I smashed the bike yesterday and honestly they didn’t leave the circuit till midnight last night. That was the best way to repay them today.”
But, kissing his phone after calling his wife who had given birth to their first child on Aug. 2, he confessed a MotoGP win was not everything.
“I expected probably a different feeling but with Lucy giving birth the other week that was the best feeling in the world,” said Crutchlow.
“Don’t get me wrong, winning a race is fantastic but I got the best present a couple of weeks ago.”
In wet conditions following several hours of steady rain, pole-sitter Marquez took an early lead but was soon replaced by Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, the winner from Austria a week ago.
Capitalizing on his choice of hard-option front and rear tires, Crutchlow worked his way through the pack patiently from 10th on the grid to take the lead from the Italian whose soft-option front tire visibly started to wear off.
“I took the gamble, nobody else did,” said Crutchlow, marveling at the combined-compound strategies used by his rivals.
The 37-year-old Rossi, who has won five top-class Grands Prix at Brno, battled back from as low as 12th early in the race.
Marquez said he was happy with his ninth podium finish in 11 races this season, although he admitted he had to manage his soft tires.
Crutchlow is the first Briton to win an elite-class Grand Prix since Barry Sheene in 1981.
France’s Loris Baz took fourth, his best ever MotoGP result, ahead of Spain’s Hector Barbera and Ireland’s Eugene Laverty.
In heavy rain earlier Sunday, Germany’s Jonas Folger took his first win of the season in the Moto2 category while Briton John McPhee earned his maiden Moto3 win. — AFP