The 26-year-old Coventry rider Cal Crutchlow yesterday hobbled to a table on a pair of crutches and tried to explain to a press conference how he had just managed to soar from 20th and last place on the grid to sixth place in the British MotoGP, riding a 180mph Yamaha with a broken ankle.
"I didn't know that I was going to be able to do that," he admitted after thrilling his fans at the 3.6-mile Silverstone circuit. "I could easily have trundled around in last place, but people have come here and bought the T-shirts and the flags and I couldn't let them down."
When Crutchlow plunged off his 280-horsepower motorcycle before qualifying on Saturday in a carbon copy of the embarrassing crash that eliminated him from the 2011 British Grand Prix, hands and eyebrows shot skywards in the pits. You could see the P45 fluttering in the air from his Tech3 team, owned by the Frenchman Herv Poncharal, who cherishes podiums, not faux-pas.
But Crutchlow passed a fitness test on the morning of the race, and completed nine laps in the warm-up session in 10th place. What then happened will ensure that Crutchlow's name becomes synonymous in the minds of every team manager in MotoGP with guts and grit.
He picked up seven places on the first lap, and by lap 11 had bored into seventh place behind America's former world champion Nicky Hayden. Crutchlow, in only his second year in MotoGP, was then faced with an eight-second gap to Hayden's red Ducati. But he stole sixth place on the final lap, and hoisted himself to fourth in the points standings.
"I was just disappointed that I didn't qualify for the front row and challenge Jorge Lorenzo for first place in the race," Crutchlow said. "In the race my lap times were three seconds faster than they had been in practice."
The Spaniard Lorenzo won the race on his factory Yamaha, after reducing a three-second lead from reigning title-holder Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda.
Lorenzo now leads the Australian by 25 points in the world championship with 12 of 18 rounds to come, while Stoner's Spanish team-mate Dani Pedrosa finished third, and occupies third place in the table.
In fourth place, Crutchlow heads a clutch of former world champions, including the MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, who languishes in sixth place on his Ducati.
"When they first examined me in hospital on Saturday the doctor said that I would miss the next three or four rounds of the championship. But I'm going back to my home in the Isle of Man to see my own doctor, and I'll be on the grid in Holland on 30 June," Crutchlow said.
"To prove that I was fit for today, I had to run from one side of the room to the other four times, do 20 rises on my toes and 10 on my heels. I'm a typical motorcyclist – this is what I do to get into a race."Reuse content