Controversy, chaos and off-track confrontation may have grabbed the headlines from the Argentina GP – some might say rightfully so, too – but I, like many other Brits and millions of fans around the world, was delighted to see that Cal Crutchlow had taken his 3rd victory in MotoGP. People write him off and knock him down when he is down but yet again, Crutchlow got his act together and delivered when those around him in the championship standings lost their heads.
The cynics amongst us will say, ‘yeah but Cal didn’t beat Rossi or Marquez in a head-to-head, nor did he beat Pedrosa’ and in all honesty, I agree. Because Marquez beat himself and then beat Rossi into the weeds. He did beat the previous championship leader, Dovi, as he was mired down field. Pedrosa crashed out after a risky move by Zarco. What I am getting at is, Crutchlow won, not because the likes of Marquez, Rossi and Pedrosa had bad races, but because Cal kept his head in the right place and his nose clean, Marquez was too busy putting his nose in a beehive and unfortunately for him, wasn’t coming out with a nostril full of honey.
Those same cynics will say that ‘the weather interfered and that Cal just had the best set up on race day’, which, again, is true to some extent. Cal obviously had a very good set up, otherwise, he would not have won. But to say he only won because of the weather is wrong. Throughout the entirety of free practice, Cal never finished below 3rd – it was only in qualifying when things went south.
Cal’s win makes me proud to be British. For so many years before Cal and after Barry Sheene, us Brits have been blighted by bad luck, missed opportunities and poor decisions. We have never had anyone to shout about. Maybe that is why we all have a soft spot for Italians, whether it be Frankie Chili, Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso or Loris Capirossi. Italians carry that ‘I can do’ attitude that Brits carry too.
It does more than make me proud though, lots of things make me proud. Seeing a British flag when I am on holiday in an obscure country, seeing some young British talent prosper or just seeing British people ‘do the right thing.’ Crutchlow’s win in Argentina inspires me; it will inspire a generation. His “don’t doubt me” words are a stark reminder that Cal is not just a rider that won by fluke, but a rider who knows that he can win and knows that some people don’t believe him. In the 2012 London Olympics, a whole city was inspired; a generation of young kids being able to see their athletic heroes in the flesh and thinking, ‘I want to do that’.
I see it now, as a commentator in the CoolFab British Minibike championship. And no, this piece is not about me, it is not meant to be. But I see young kids riding bikes, giving it everything they have because they want to be champions. With Crutchlow winning, leading – both by example and the championship standings – this will only go on and give more determination, more hunger to the likes of Casey O’Gorman in CoolFab. It gives them something to aim at. Now, with the British Talent Cup, another generation is inspired at the right time. No more ‘you could be the next Rossi or Marquez’ but more of ‘you could be the next Cal Crutchlow’.
Do you know what else impresses me. The fact he has done it on an Independent bike – and for heavens sake, I know it is not completely ‘Independent’ but the team is not ALL supported by HRC and there will always be a delay in ‘factory’ parts to the team. A Brit, winning in an Independent team, just gives me this sense of Britishness, this sense of deservedness. A small team, that has been around for a long time – with good and bad riders – getting what they actually deserve and with the right rider making it happen too.
And one other thing that made the hairs on my arms stand on end was the coverage. Like I said earlier, in the UK, we haven’t had much to shout about in MotoGP before Cal came in, however, when we do have something to shout about, boy do we shout. BT Sport were not afraid of getting behind their man, their rider, the rider who is putting eyes on TV screens and bums on seats at the British GP year in, year out. It was like the good old days of Foggy in World Superbikes – a great sense of British humour and compassion for the countryman, that’s what I like.
Finally, Cal has proved his worth, he has proved that he is a contender, a challenger, a competitor of the fiercest nature and a character in the paddock with a burning desire. A desire to prove people that they are wrong and that he is right. A desire to do things his way, the British, no-nonsense, tough-talking way. Cut the proverbial BS in the press releases, the PC talk and the robotic attitude by others; Cal is Cal, a grafter, a hard-worker, an impresser and now, a three-time MotoGP winner and championship leader. All of that is what I really like.
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