Cal Crutchlow is enjoying a very special time in his life: three weeks ago, his daughter was born and today he's scored his first ever win in MotoGP, something that Britain had waited 35 years to see. The rider with the crazy eyes proved to be the most alert on the starting grid, going with two hard tyres, with which he rode to victory.
How are you feeling?
“It's difficult to explain because a few weeks ago I experienced the most amazing feeling of all when by daughter Willow was born. I don't think anything can beat that. This is the second best feeling, but is different from what i expected”.
When you called Lucy, what did she say?
“She told me that Willow slept through the whole race and saw nothing. We decided she wouldn’t come to this race and I’m disappointed now that she didn’t come, but I hope to do it again at another race".
You've not scored two podium at races Lucy hasn't attended…
"I'm not going to ban her (he laughs). It’s difficult because I’ve had so many years with her coming to races with me. The funny thing is now I Facetime her all the time and she gets mad with seeing how messy the motorhome is! It’s completely different, and I feel quite lost. I would normally sit in the motorhome with Lucy and with friends, but now in the downtime I find myself sitting in the garage not knowing what to do. From now I have an extra person, with Willow, and I’ll be able to change nappies in the gaps I guess".
The last Brit to win in this category was Barry Sheen in 1981…
“It's already great to be linked to his name, it's an incredible sensation. It's also perfect timing because the next GP is at Silverstone”.
Was it a perfect day?
“We were smarter than the others, but yesterday didn't go well. I destroyed a bike, there wasn't one good piece left. My mechanics worked until midnight to rebuild it, I've repaid them for their work”.
When, and why, did you opt for the hard tyres?
“On the starting grid and once we decided to use it at the rear, it was an automatic choice to do the same at the front.. I actually had less doubts about the front, and was more worried about the back. And in the first laps it wasn't up to temperature on the left side, I risked crashing. I was with Valentino, he was having the same problems. It wasn't easy to stay calm, but I had faith in my choice”.
When did you realise you could win?
“After 5 laps I realised I'd made the right choice, though it wasn't easy to pass the other riders. But I could still see the front group and this made me realise that I had a chance. Then when I reached Marc's group, I could see they were suffering while I was still fast”.
Did you manage the race?
“To be honest, through the last ten laps I was playing, I never had to push to the max. Only at one point, when I looked at the mega screen, did I think that Valentino might catch me, I didn't know which tyre he had at the front. I started to push again and nearly crashed at turn 10, because I got there in sixth gear rather than fifth and couldn't stop”.
Was it a long race, thinking about the result?
“It was Cecchinello's fault”.
In what way?
“Every lap, I could see him jumping up and down and waving over the pitwall. I wanted to tell him: go to the garage and have a coffee! I'd probably have been worse in his place though (he laughs)”.
An unexpected result perhaps after a difficult start to the season…
“I didn't start well, I struggled more than last year. But together with the team we've worked hard and in recent races have been more competitive in the dry, in Austria I'd have made a good race if it wasn't for the false start”.
But the wet helps…
“It levels performance, but as I said in the last races we've taken a step forward with the electronics and better understand the bike. I still have to improve the flying lap though....
You don't have a factory bike…
“Honda would say it's the same, but there are small differences, a few tenths though I couldn't quantify this exactly. I've said it many times before, on my bike, Marquez would still be quicker than me”.
Last week, after Ducati's victory, did it make you regret leaving the team?
“No, I was pleased for them because I know how hard they've worked for that result. I've never had regrets about my decision, I'm part of a great team and am giving Honda my input in terms of development”.