Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow has strengthened his status as the top non-factory rider in MotoGP with an impressive run to third position in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

Fresh from a career-best result of second place last time out at Le Mans, Crutchlow ran fourth for much of the Italian race but was making in-roads into third place Dani Pedrosa during the closing stages as he came on strong during the second-half.

However, when Marc Marquez crashed out ahead of them from second place, Crutchlow says he backed off from pursuing Pedrosa in order to protect what would become his second podium finish in five races.

Indeed, Crutchlow believes he had the pace to catch and pass Pedrosa regardless, but was content to play it safe and consolidate his fourth position in the overall standings - now 24 points clear of factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi.

"I am really happy to be back on the podium because Mugello is one of the blue riband races on the calendar and that makes it feel a bit more special," he said. "It is an awesome result and I have to pay a big tribute to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew who did an incredible job this weekend.

"I've not felt comfortable on the bike but today they gave me a package that was really competitive. In the second half of the race I was really strong and consistent and I could see for the last 10 laps I had the pace that was bringing me closer to Dani and Marc. I was in a really fast and consistent rhythm but I hate to be gifted a podium like that.

"I'm sorry Marc crashed because he was doing an amazing job again but to be honest I felt I could have caught Dani and taken third anyway. When I saw Marc crash I slowed down to not risk losing a second podium in a row, which is a fantastic achievement for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and me.

"I'm fourth in the Championship, top non-factory rider again, so it has been another great way to finish the weekend and continue our very strong start to the season."


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