It was a bittersweet end to a fantastic 2016 MotoGP season, for British rider Cal Crutchlow aboard the LCR Honda; a rider who has had a significant year with the birth of his daughter Willow, and his first MotoGP win (and another one to be sure). After a difficult weekend, he ended up crashing out of the Gran Premio Motul de la Communitant Valenciana, however he still finished the season as the top independent team rider, winning the championship title for the satellite teams.
Crutchlow qualified 11th the hard way
During Free Practice 3, Crutchlow was unable to remain in the top ten by the end of the session, and so it was down to Qualifying 1 again for the Brit, to compete for a chance to progress through to Qualifying 2, so that he could start the season finale on one of the front four rows. He pulled it out the bad in Q1, finding his pace and setting a quick lap that no one could come near, but then during the second Qualifying session he crashed out and had to settle for 11th on the grid.
Crash for Crutchlow ended his season earlier than hoped
He got a good start to the season finale in Valencia, and was immediately able to gain positions as he found his rhythm. On the second lap, he was passed by Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Aleix Espargaro who took ninth from him. Things settled down for him in the race and he tried to push and improve his pace, but sadly it all went wrong when he crashed out at turn 14 of the 17th lap. His accident was a result of tyre pressures.
Fortunately he was OK, the airbags in his leathers had gone off as required and stopped him from gaining any more serious injuries. It meant he did not collect any points from the season finale, in fact he didn’t since his second win of the season in Philipp Island after a wet race, and so he remained on 141 points.
Crutchlow becomes the 2016 Independent Team Champion
It was enough to claim him seventh in the championship. He finished as the third highest placed Honda in the runnings, his contributions from the standings helped them to take the manufacturer’s championship of 2016. The success for the team didn’t end there though, as Crutchlow remained the highest placed independent team rider in the championship and so he took the championship title in Valencia, despite his DNF.
Crutchlow struggled to feel comfortable in Valencia
He admitted that he “didn’t feel comfortable all weekend here in Valencia” as he found that they “never seemed to get the right setting with the bike”; although he said that during the race he “felt OK”. When he was 10 laps into the race he “settled into a rhythm” and found that he could “start to push” but he discovered problems with the bike.
He revealed that the “front tyre pressure was way too high – higher than it had been all weekend”. He was one of only three riders who had opted for the hard compound front Michelin Power Slick; along with 2016 MotoGP champion Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda, and Jack Miller on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda. He then found that the “tyre pressure went back down” however then he “crashed out going over the limit of the package” they had on race day in Valencia.
Crutchlow reflects on an incredible season for him and his team
Reflecting on 2016 he spoke of how LCR Honda have “had an incredible season as a team” and he feels that he as “ridden well” however he still is wanting to “improve for next year”. He described it as “bittersweet” when referring to the way they have ended the season as he remembered their “two fantastic wins and some great podium finishes”. He highlighted the fact that they have “has more wins than some of the factory riders” which he felt was “great”. He said, “We have to take the positives from this season, and that’s them!”
Praising his team he said, “The LCR Honda Team have done a brilliant job all year.” He claimed it has “not been easy” with their bike, “even for Marc and Dani”, however he said, “Hopefully when we start testing on Tuesday and Wednesday it will be the start of new things to come with the Honda.”