Despite only 20-minutes of wet track time on his Monster Yamaha before the start of the Spanish MotoGP, rookie Cal Crutchlow had closed to within two-seconds of eventual podium finisher Nicky Hayden when he fell victim to the tricky Jerez conditions.
Crutchlow, ninth on the grid and tenth in the opening laps, moved into fifth position behind Hayden on lap 12 of 27 in the crash-strewn race.
Sensing he could fight for a podium, and with little to lose, Crutchlow put everything into his pursuit of Hayden, but was caught out at Turn 9 on lap 20. Crutchlow was able to remount and finish eighth.
“I never thought I'd crash in MotoGP and still get a top ten 10!” smiled Cal, who set the seventh fastest lap of the race, quicker than the likes of factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Ben Spies.
“That was an unbelievable race and not one of the easiest I've had in my career. The conditions were so unpredictable that it was hard to get any grip and I was having lots of moments with the front and rear tyre, but so was everybody else. I could see people were making mistakes but I just tried to keep my head.
“When I got into fifth I felt pretty comfortable though I wanted it to rain again because the tyres were wearing pretty fast. I was gaining on Nicky really quick and he was in fourth, so there's no doubt the way I was catching him that I was thinking about a podium. I've nothing to lose so I was pushing and I went down at Turn 9.
“I actually lost the rear but then pushed the front and I was down. I'm not going to be too hard on myself crashing when I was battling for a podium in MotoGP. I'm happy because before this morning I'd never tried the bike in the rain, so to be where I was is a good sign.
“I was in the top ten in the wet and dry on a track I'd never seen before Thursday, so I'm making good progress,” he concluded.
“With more crashes we were getting nearer and nearer to the front and we started to dream of a podium but then Cal unfortunately crashed,” added team manager Herve Poncharal. “It was a mistake and it was a pity as he could have had a really strong result in just his second race. But the good point was that he picked up the bike and continued to push hard to finish eighth.”
Crutchlow's team-mate Colin Edwards - behind the Englishman when he fell - took up the pursuit of Hayden and what became third place after the late exit of Ben Spies.
Edwards overtook Hayden with three laps to go, but his M1 then stopped on the very final lap, handing the final place on the podium back to the #69.