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 on 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 August 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.
– Gamble pays off –
Capitalising on his choice of hard-option front and rear tyres, Crutchlow worked his way through the pack patiently from 10th on the grid to take the lead from the Italian whose soft-option front tyre visibly started to wear off.
“I took the gamble, nobody else did,” said Crutchlow, marvelling at the combined-compound strategies used by his rivals.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re all wimps, if you choose one you don’t choose the other.”
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.
“At the beginning I was desperate because I thought we’d made a mistake,” said the nine-time world champion.
“But lap by lap, the rear was coming better.”
“It was a great race, I’m very happy for these 20 points also because I am second in the championship and I think today we did a good job and we made the right choice.”
Marquez said he was happy with his ninth podium finish in 11 races this season, although he admitted he had to manage his soft tyres.
“In the end we lose only four points with Valentino (but) we increased the advantage with Jorge,” said the 2013 and 2014 world champion.
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 on 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. – Agence France-Presse