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GP Week : Issue 158
Cal Crutchlow BAD WEATHER MAKES GOOD RACING. AGAIN THE QUESTION GPWEEK is, in principle, a fan of wet races. Rain changes the ground rules, gives the underdog a chance, gives unpredictable results and keeps everyone sharp. And if they do crash, it is at a lower speed and usually a relatively harmless low-sider. Silverstone, famed for bad weather, proved that the rain doesn’t have to come on race day. Or even be that persistent. Just enough of it in practice, leavened with some high winds and cold temperatures, denies everyone the chance to find the perfect set-up. That means two things: firstly that not everybody is able to race to his full potential; and secondly that everyone is tentative in the early laps, making close racing with plenty of position changes, at least early on. At Silverstone, losing the last crucial ten minutes of qualifying added another variable, shuffling the grid to further complicate the mix. Alvaro Bautista’s first premier-class pole position was well won, but also well- timed. Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa were just three denied the usual chance for a last-minute soft-tyre gallop. The weather forecast in the days before the British GP could hardly have been worse. Floods would not have been unexpected, if you believed the Met office. Happily for the crowd, race day turned out pretty much fine, if not exactly warm and sunny. Happily for the racing, it was just bad enough to make the difference. If there was a hero of the day at Silverstone, it was Monster Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow. His race along was good enough for that – from the back of the grid all the way to sixth, just 15 seconds behind the leader. The fact that it was achieved with a freshly broken and dislocated left ankle ... the gear-change side, made it doubly impressive. It also gave his answer, a typical rider’s answer, to a nagging question: should anyone in this condition be allowed to race? The risk of further injury to himself is one thing, the risk to other riders another. MotoGP has hitherto all but ceded the decision to the rider: if he thinks he can ride, then he can ride. This year’s beefed up medical staff plus the British track medical authorities made it a bit harder. Crutchlow was told by track doctors that “if there was an inkling of a fracture, I couldn’t race.” He was taken to hospital, where his dislocated ankle was put back into place, and two internal fractures diagnosed. Back at the track, Crutchlow said there were none ... but the hospital had already been in touch, exposing his white lie. There followed a gruelling set of tests, before he was even allowed out for morning warm-up “The tests were effing murder,” he said. “I had to run from one side of the medical centre to the other four times. then I had to do 20 foot raises on both feet, 10 more on my left, then 10 more on the left heel.” Crutchlow ran the two laps, and then carried on. Then raced like a true charger, in spite of having trouble changing gear. “There were people here,” he said. “I had to put on a show. I race motorcycles for a living, so I didn’t want to ride round like a nobber.” This time, his answer was the right one. 29 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> SILVERSTONE