For the many thousands of fans that braved the changeable climate at Silverstone – oh, if only British politics were as reliable as the weather – there was only one star who carried their hope of home-grown glory. The florescent ‘35’ stood out in the morning gloom of race day for the twelfth round of nineteen in 2018 MotoGP but even Cal Crutchlow could not prevent the force of the rain wiping out the British GP.
Thankfully Crutchlow’s fans and followers will get another chance to harbour desires of a British winner on UK soil (the first time ever on the mainland) thanks to the Honda man’s fresh contract extension that will see him on a works RCV for another two attempts at least. “Was there much thought about it? No, not really because the deal put in front of me was an unbelievable one,” the 32 year old admitted in front of sizeable media interest at Silverstone and before a Michelin slick (or treaded rubber) had turned.
“I don’t think I’m slowing down as a rider,” he said. “That was one of the main things for me. I could have quite easily stopped – I can go home and not have to worry ever again in my life. But I feel I’m still fast. I want to continue. If you go from being top five to being top twelve and then 12th to 15th then it’s time to retire. But essentially I’m going faster than any other year. I feel good and now I have to continue to be fast for two more years as well.”
As the winner of two Grands Prix in 2016 and in Argentina earlier in 2018 Crutchlow quenched the four-decade thirst for British success in MotoGP and is rightly positioned as the principle Union Jack bearer at the top level of motorcycle racing. Silverstone was an apt moment to deliver the good news. “I thought it was the right time to do it,” he said. “It is probably very close to my best deal in MotoGP, even though I’m on a superb deal now as well. They’ve [Honda] got three strong riders for next year because they’ve managed to get two riders in the factory team and then me here.”
“The Honda has come better this year,” he reasoned. “Nothing to do, as you know, with the chassis because it’s essentially similar or the same but the engine is better and they’ve matched the electronics very well. They’re continually working and I look forward to next year’s bikes. I think they’ll be better again.”
Crutchlow will be 33 at the end of October. He’ll attack Grand Prix for another two seasons but those could be the last double of a career that has seen the Englishman celebrate victory in every category he’s contested. “I’m quite positive this will be my last contract…just because I don’t want to race forever,” he teased. “But…anything can change. I also said that about my last contract! That’s not me saying ‘if I win I’ll continue’, or ‘I’ll stop if I’m last’. Things can change. I want to take my daughter to school and stuff like that. Life would be easy if I stopped. But I still love what I do: I’m not loving it, or I’m not motivated then I won’t bother doing it.”
As for the Silverstone washout, the Brit was disappointed that his top three speed on Friday and Saturday did not have the chance to be converted into a podium shot. “I’m very disappointed and devastated that the fans never got to see a race today,” he lamented. “Also for everybody who watched, who turned up, who worked all weekend, the marshals that sat there. As I said, it’s disappointing, but we all wanted to race. All the riders came here this weekend to race. It’s not that we just turned around and said: ‘we’ll have a weekend off’. We don’t want to be sat here not being able to put on a show for the fans that have turned up. We tried our best, but this was the decision of the Safety Commission, that we wouldn’t ride.”
“Whether I would have won, lost or drawn I would have loved to have raced at home,” he added. “In the dry I felt I was in great shape to potentially win the race this weekend.”