“He is never shy to tell you he’s proved you wrong, we'll miss him”

As Cal Crutchlow prepares for his final MotoGP event as a full-time racer, Jack Miller gives an honest appraisal his rival and buddy would be proud of 

Cal Crutchlow - LCR Honda

After 10 seasons, 167 grands prix, three victories and a fair few gnarly injuries, Cal Crutchlow will bid farewell to the MotoGP World Championship as a full-time racer at this weekend’s Portguese MotoGP in Portimao.

The Briton has been a fixture on the grid since stepping up to the premier class of motorcycle racing from the WorldSBK Championship in 2011 with Tech 3 Yamaha. He’d go on to compete for the Ducati Corse factory team before settling into a lengthy stint with the LCR Honda squad he’ll sign off with this weekend.

Effectively coming full circle in his career, while it is MotoGP’s maiden foray to the Algarve circuit, it was at Portimao where Crutchlow wrapped up his WorldSSP Championship title back in 2009 with Yamaha.

It is the manufacturer with which he’ll embark on the next stage in his career too, taking on the role of test rider, which in turn may give him opportunities for guest wildcard outings on the M1 in 2021.

“I have been privileged to work with some great people, great teams, great bikes and been here for 10 years riding some of the best bikes in the world,” he said. “It is a privilege to be able to do that. 

“Ten years ago I didn’t think I’d do what I have done, so I have exceeded my own expectations but working with great people and great crews, I don’t think I have left any garage without getting on with people and relationships so it is nice it has come full circle.”

With his three victories on satellite machinery coming during a period when the victories outside of the factory efforts was unusual, Crutchlow identifies his maiden MotoGP win at Brno in 2016 - which in turn marked the first British race winner in the premier class since Barry Sheene in 1977 - as the one he looks back on most fondly.

“The best win has to be Brno because it was my first one and i was so far back at the start but managed to come through. I’ll take that one.”

“He’s a bad smell, he won’t go all away…”

One rider that will miss having Crutchlow around day-to-day is Jack Miller, the pair having struck up a close friendship after becoming team-mates at LCR in 2015. 

Paying tribute to the Briton, Miller was forthright in saying Crutchlow - who reached the top of the podium in MotoGP having eschewed the traditional GP ladder format of Moto3/2 - has had to work harder than most to prove people wrong… even if took pleasure in doing so.

“I think on behalf of myself and everybody, all we can say is thank you to Cal for everything he has done on and off the track, I think he has been a great ambassador for the sport. He has been one of the hardest working guys I have seen in the paddock. 

“A lot of the times I feel he was doubted more than other riders too but every time he was doubted or people wrote him off, he was able to come back and prove them all wrong. 

“The best thing about him is he is never shy to tell you he’s proved you wrong, so we will miss him dearly but he’s a bad smell, he won’t go all away.”

The legacy left by Cal Crutchlow in MotoGP

Miller strikes a good point when suggesting Crutchlow has had to put the ‘haters’ in their place on more than one occasion. 

Few have made the jump from WorldSBK to MotoGP successfully over the past decade, with Crutchlow’s BSB-WorldSSP-WorldSBK-MotoGP route seemingly an unthinkable track of progression. There were bumps along the way... literally, with Crutchlow’s density of accidents leaving their legacy on his body and at times his reputation.

However, this adverse route was also Crutchlow’s strength and he appeared to glean satisfaction from repeatedly bouncing back with interest. His maiden win in Brno may have had some fortuitous elements, but he’d go on to win twice more in a period that was far less forgiving for satellite entities - even if he did have some good machinery beneath him.

For many though it is Crutchlow’s ‘down the line’ attitude that many will miss, an honesty and directness that fuelled the disdain for those who weren’t on his bandwagon, but made him refreshing in a paddock of increasingly media managed, censored racers. The media will agree - they may have felt his wrath of opinion at times, but he gave us some fantastic headlines over the years.

It’s traits that will make his new role at Yamaha so important, even if bosses - having repelled the increasingly aggravated words of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales in recent years - might need to steal themselves for it.

Indeed, by all accounts Crutchlow was the test rider at Honda too and his input and sheer hard work - a legacy of his determination to prove everyone wrong - perhaps kept him on the bike longer than his more recent results would have perhaps allowed him to.

Like Miller says though, Crutchlow may not be racing next year but you can bet he won’t be far away...

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