For the first time since Sete Gibernau in 2004, a satellite rider leads the MotoGP World Championship.

Cal Crutchlow's thrilling victory in Sunday's Argentina MotoGP not only put the Englishman on top of the world in the riders' standings, but LCR into the lead of the teams' contest and Honda on top of the constructors' championship.

It's obviously early days, only round two of 19, but Crutchlow has the perfect springboard to shoot for his best ever MotoGP season, which would mean bettering fifth overall for Tech3 Yamaha in 2013.

"So far so good, because I'm leading the championship," said Crutchlow, also the first British rider to head the premier-class championship since Barry Sheene in 1979.

"I don't know when the last time was that a satellite rider was leading the championship. But it's been a long time.

"We have to give credit to the LCR Honda team, to Honda in general, they've given us a great package and been very supportive of us.

"It's a strange feeling and situation, because [a win] or the podium was more expected for me this weekend, so I'm not as surprised as when I won at Brno or something like that.

"We've had pace all winter, we had pace at Qatar, and we had pace here. The only disappointment was qualifying, which was a mistake from me and my team.

"I also have to give credit to Johann and Alex for their podiums, but look at the sheer facts, these guys were also battling for the win and for the podium in Qatar. They've stepped up their game. And also Jack, he was there in the fight starting in Qatar.

"I told you that ten guys could be on the podium this weekend, and you would have got great odds on that result today."

The tricky damp conditions caught out numerous riders during the race, with Crutchlow pinpointing the penultimate corner as most hazardous - despite a scary stream of water crossing the track through the fast Turn 4 onto the back straight.

"The main one was probably at the [penultimate] corner, because on the throttle you take less risk than on the brakes. Because if you lock the front, then you're on the floor," he explained.

"But if you slide with the rear [turn 4], you can also manage that a little bit. So that's why I was taking a different line to the others, because I was happy."

The triple MotoGP race winner revealed he then switched lines 'when it mattered' to snatch victory from Johann Zarco.

"I don't know what I had, 11-seconds [to the group] behind me? So I knew that even if I lost half-a-second coming on to that back straight every lap - and also if I showed them that I was using the wrong line, like Rins rode around the outside of me…

"But the lap that it mattered, you saw the line that I took, and I just murdered... well, the Honda murdered the Yamaha [of race leader Zarco] on the back straight."

In the past, Honda riders have often been forced to run the hardest front tyre option available, to try and claw back time in the braking zone.

Crutchlow chose the medium option on his way to competitive fourth place in Qatar and again at Termas (no-one used the hard).

Is that a key difference for to his previous Honda seasons?

"Yes, but I think that if it was a different scenario today I would have had to go with the harder front tyre," Crutchlow replied.

"Say it was full dry and the pace was going to be 1m 39s, I had to go with the hard, or else we are in a mess, to be honest.

"Honda have worked incredibly well over the winter, as you know. But we can still improve our bike.

"In the race, I felt again that the front tyre was too soft, I had quite a lot of locking of the rear, and we need to improve that.

"But it was nice to be able to manage it again, where a lot of years I would have been on the floor."

In 2004, Gibernau also took the world championship lead at round two, remained on top until round six and went on to finish title runner-up to Yamaha's Valentino Rossi.

Round three of the 2018 world championship takes place in Austin next weekend.

 

 

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