Cal Crutchlow entered the closing stages of Sunday's Indianapolis MotoGP locked in a thrilling battle with Valentino Rossi
and Alvaro Bautista for fourth place.
The Englishman had spent most of the race tussling with Bautista, with a charging Rossi catching them in the final laps.
Crutchlow was fourth and ahead of Rossi with just a few turns to go, but couldn't prevent the nine times world champion planting his factory Yamaha up the inside at the final corner.
Less than 0.2s covered Rossi, Crutchlow and Bautista at the finish line.
“It was a good battle. We all tried hard - me, Bautista and Vale. I enjoyed it,” said Crutchlow. “I have no problem with Valentino's pass. It was good fun. It was all light-hearted. At the end of the day, I would have done the pass, and I did do the pass a few times. It was just one of those things.
“I covered the line, but he still made it through, so... bastard! I had a lot of fun though. I think the three of us gave the American fans something to cheer. I lost a couple points in the championship. But as most people know, I'm not expected to beat the factory team. So to be in contention with them, I'm happy enough.”
Crutchlow's Tech 3 Yamaha had a new fuel tank and seat unit for this weekend's event, which produced the hoped for improvement in early race pace - but requires a better set-up to avoid being out of balance in the latter stages.
“It was the first weekend we've had the new fuel tank and seat unit, and it went the opposite way for me. I was fast at the start of the race and bad at the end,” he revealed. “We're normally in the opposite way around. We just had the balance of the bike wrong. For 10 laps, it was good, but the extra 17 not so good.
“I've only lost two points to Valentino in the Championship on a track I don't like at all. I was strong all weekend, so that gives me a lot of confidence for the next races in Brno and Silverstone where I was very competitive at last season.”
Crutchlow, who remains fifth in the world championship and the leading satellite rider, took his first MotoGP podium in last year's Brno race.