Cal Crutchlow

Cal Crutchlow
Country: 
United Kingdom
Birth Date: 
29 October, 1985
Birth Place: 
Coventry

Cal Crutchlow Biography

Cal Crutchlow brought the curtain down on his full-time MotoGP career at the end of 2020, by which time his 19 podiums and three wins made him Britain's most successful premier-class rider since the legendary Barry Sheene.

Making his MotoGP debut with Tech3 Yamaha in 2011 on the back of a World Supersport title and WorldSBK race wins, Crutchlow claimed six podiums on the M1 and then one rostrum during his season at the Factory Ducati team before arriving at LCR Honda in 2015.

The highlight of Crutchlow's career then came at Brno 2016 when he took the first premier-class victory by a British rider since Sheene in 1981.

Further victories followed at Phillip Island 2016 and Argentina 2018, when Crutchlow also became the first Briton to lead the premier-class standings since Sheene in 1979 and first satellite rider since Sete Gibernau in 2004.

Crutchlow's character is a mix of contradictions. The fearless motorcycle racer (who fell 26 times during the 2016 season) combined with dedicated family man. Confident and outspoken, yet at times sensitive to criticism and insecure. Combative and quick to argue, but highly respected by his rivals.

Cutchlow's teams have spoken with pride about how, after returning from a fast accident and sometimes in pain, he would go straight back out and – from the data – they could see he was pushing at 100% again straight away. Such determination and the burning desire to prove his doubters wrong has taken Crutchlow to heights that he freely admits talent alone would not have taken him, not to mention fuelling memorable rides while injured.

An aspiring footballer from a young age, Crutchlow had trials at his local Coventry FC, but made the decision to pursue motorcycling instead having been inspired by his racer father Dek. Learning to ride aged 11, Crutchlow made his race debut in the UK Junior Challenge just a week after receiving his first bike. Success came quickly for Crutchlow and he was crowned champion at the end of 1999.

Graduating to the Aprilia RS 125 Challenge, a support series to the British Superbike Championship, Crutchlow went head-to-head with the likes of future MotoGP champion Casey Stoner and Chaz Davies, scoring a maiden podium in his final race to secure a decent fifth place in the standings.

Earning backing from the ACU Road Race Academy, Crutchlow stayed put for another season and while a mid-season elbow injury threatened his chances, a total of eight wins would see him edge out Paul Veazey for the title.

Graduating to the Junior Superstock Championship with newly formed team Tech2, Crutchlow enjoyed a strong debut season on the GSX-R600. Although a substantial step up from his 125 machine, Crutchlow acquitted himself well to end the year in fourth position, behind Craig Jones, Tom Sykes and James Buckingham.

His performance should have seen him move to the British Supersport Championship in 2003 with Tech2, but financial issues on the part of the team forced Crutchlow to settle for a ride in the one-make Virgin Mobile Yamaha R6 Cup.

With the prize of a factory-backed Superbike ride up for grabs, Crutchlow was eager to fast-track his career, but three retirements in the opening five rounds left him playing catch up. By the end of the season Crutchlow was the pace setter, winning four races in total, but with Tommy Hill scoring in each race, he would fall just 11 points short of his rival.

Nonetheless, while Hill headed for Superbikes, Crutchlow was snapped up by Northpoint Honda for the British Supersport Championship. A solid first season ensued, with Crutchlow managing eight top ten finishes to end the year in tenth position. Retained for 2005, Crutchlow suffered a disappointing start to the year, but two wins and three further podiums in the final six races lifted him to a third place finish in the standings.

A third and final attempt in 2006 would see Crutchlow finally secure the title after demolishing the competition, including former Superstock rival Sykes. Crutchlow finished off the podium just once over the course of the season, his six wins seeing him finish ahead by a mammoth 70 points.

His Supersport dominance duly courted the attention of factory-backed teams in the Superbike category, Crutchlow opting to sign with Rizla Suzuki alongside Chris Walker in BSB.

Determined to revive Suzuki’s glory days in the category (it had won just one race over the last two seasons), Crutchlow’s rookie campaign started off badly with a series of retirements, while a best finish of seventh was to prove the meagre highlight from the opening half of the year.

Steadily, however, Crutchlow began to reel in his team-mate and by the end of the season he was regularly out pacing the more experienced Walker. A pole position at Croft did plenty for his confidence and he was rewarded with a vital podium finish in the final race of the season.

Ending the season ninth overall, Crutchlow had done enough to secure a dream role with reigning double champions HM Plant Honda for 2008 alongside Leon Haslam. While it was Haslam who was tipped to lift a long-awaited title, it was Crutchlow who emerged out of the blocks fastest, claiming a debut victory in only his second race with the team at Thruxton.

Another win followed soon after at Brands Hatch, although a retirement at Oulton Park had put him on the back foot in his quest to challenge early front runner Shane Byrne on the Airwaves Ducati. However, while Crutchlow was a regular podium visitor through the year, he would not top the rostrum again at any point.

Indeed, with Haslam finding his feet with the Honda mid-season, Crutchlow faded slightly as the year wore on, although two podiums in the final four rounds helped him secure a positive third overall.

Additionally, Crutchlow took to the World Superbike stage for the first time as a wild-card at Donington Park and Portimao, Cal impressing on home ground in particular to finish second behind Troy Bayliss.

Much like his wild-card counterparts Haslam and Sykes, as well as BSB title winner Byrne, Crutchlow was targeted for a move to the world scene on a full-time basis. However, while he was linked with Yamaha for Superbikes, he lost out on the ride to Sykes, despite finishing ahead of him in BSB.

Nonetheless, Crutchlow chose to mirror the method of former rival Jonathan Rea by reverting back to Supersports, albeit internationally. Signing with Yamaha, although it was initially perceived as a backward step, it would prove to be a shrewd move for Crutchlow.

Immediately competitive on the R6, despite it being considered slightly inferior to the dominant Hondas, Crutchlow became embroiled in a thrilling exchange with Eugene Laverty throughout the season. Although two costly retirements towards the end of the year allowed Laverty back into the equation heading to the final round, Crutchlow’s five race wins made him the comfortable winner.

Ending a run of six titles for Honda, although it was assumed Crutchlow had won a ticket to Superbikes, the Japanese manufacturer still had to work hard to retain him after he expressed a public interest in joining the inaugural Moto2 series with the Gresini team.

Despite Gresini’s efforts though, Crutchlow was confirmed as part of an all-new and all-British Yamaha line-up alongside James Toseland. Charged with defending Yamaha’s Superbike crown, Crutchlow began the season fairly well, particularly in qualifying as he notched an impressive total of six pole position.

However, such a tally highlighted some less impressive race performances, Crutchlow making it onto the podium just three times during the opening half of the year. Nonetheless, Crutchlow broke through during the second-half, claiming an excellent double victory at Silverstone, plus a third success at the season ending Magny-Cours event, to end the year in fifth position overall.

The results were enough to convince Yamaha that Crutchlow had a promising future and duly promoted him to its satellite MotoGP effort at Tech 3. Racing alongside Colin Edwards, Crutchlow had a tough task to emulate predecessor Ben Spies and there were some frustrating moments as he grew impatient at learning the Grand Prix ropes and suffered an injury setback on home soil at Silverstone.

In-between there were bursts of speed as Crutchlow made the top ten on six occasions, including an excellent ride to fourth position at the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix, the best finish by a British rider since 2002.

But with ex-factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso arriving as his team-mate and countryman Bradley Smith poised to step up to MotoGP with Tech 3 in 2013, Crutchlow knew he had to deliver in 2012. With a year’s experience under his belt, Crutchlow duly came out fighting, proving particularly quick in qualifying, while a flurry of top five finishes in the opening races raised his profile further.

However, while Crutchlow was often a match for Dovizioso in terms of pace, the pair were split by the Briton’s tendency to make errors, particularly during the latter stages of the year. Ironically, Crutchlow’s poor end to the season (DNFs in 5 of the final 8 races) would coincide with his first MotoGP podiums at Brno and Phillip Island.

Though it wasn’t enough to lift him higher than seventh overall, Crutchlow’s 2013 quandary was solved when Dovizioso secured the available Ducati ride (instead of Crutchlow), meaning the Briton remained for a third season with Tech 3, albeit now as team leader.

Crutchlow affirmed his reputation as a potential MotoGP race winner by finishing 2013 as the top non-factory rider. Often amongst the ‘aliens’, at least during the first-half of the season with four podiums in five races - including career-best second places at Le Mans and Sachsenring, as well as a debut pole position at Assen - had Crutchlow comfortably out-scoring factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi for a time.

Although he would struggle to maintain that level in the latter half of the year, Crutchlow did enough to secure a career-best fifth in the world championship and a factory ride for 2014, albeit with Ducati rather than Yamaha - where he rejoined Dovizioso.

Ill at ease on the Desmosedici for much of winter testing, a string of problems including a hand injury at Austin saw Crutchlow score just twice in the opening seven races, significantly reducing his confidence on the already fickle machine. A mid-season contractual wrangle saw him announced as staying with Ducati, only to confirm a move to LCR Honda just weeks later, Crutchlow was subsequently prevented from receiving the updated GP14.2 for the final rounds of the season.

Ironically, with his Ducati days numbered, Crutchlow found form on the bike during the latter rounds, scoring a podium in the wet at Aragon, qualifying on the front row in Australia - where he fell within sight of another rostrum - and finishing the year as a more convincing match for Andrea Dovizioso. Even so, it wasn’t enough to lift him higher than 13th overall.

Having curtailed his career as a Ducati rider in favour of a move to the satellite LCR Honda, Crutchlow had high hopes of getting back to the form that saw him write headlines when he was with Tech 3 Yamaha in 2013.

For the most part 2015 was a positive season for Crutchlow as he firmly established himself in the upper mid-field mix, while Argentina marked a welcome return to the podium. However, while he comfortably had the measure of fellow satellite Honda rider Scott Redding, Crutchlow would be comfortably out-performed in 2015 by countryman and former team-mate Smith, at Tech3 Yamaha.

That changed the following season and, when Crutchlow rode to victory in the Czech Republic, he not only broke a personal drought stretching back to World Superbikes in 2010, but finally extinguished the UK's 35-year wait for a new premier-class winner. Crutchlow then won again at Phillip Island, this time in fully dry conditions.

Other stand-out performances came in the form of a popular home pole and combative runner-up finish at Silverstone, plus an earlier podium at Sachsenring. All of which helped the LCR rider finish the season fifth in the world championship, the top non-factory rider and the second-best Honda competitor after Marc Marquez. Indeed, one of the few accolades Crutchlow missed out on this season was the first satellite win since 2006, an honour that went to good friend Jack Miller at Assen.

Crutchlow had been ranked just 18th in the world championship after the Dutch event, scoring points in only three of the opening seven races and making his later success all the more remarkable.

After a breakthrough season, Crutchlow looked to build upon that success in 2017 and while he gained greater consistency for strong points finishes the silverware haul was trimmed to just a single rostrum showing with third place in Argentina. The LCR Honda had plenty of near-misses though with four places at Circuit of the Americas, Assen and Silverstone on his way to ninth place in the final standings.

2018 saw Crutchlow silence his critics once again with another stunning victory, this time at a wild Argentina round where good friend Miller started on pole position, with the victory followed by the British rider shouting down the TV cameras "don't doubt me!" before celebrating wildly. The win, coupled with his fourth place from the opening round in Qatar, gave Crutchlow the world championship lead - the first Brit to lead the standings since Barry Sheene back in 1979.

Further glory followed with pole position at Jerez, moments before being stung by a wasp caught in his leathers during his in-lap, as Crutchlow cemented himself as Honda's strongest challenger behind Marc Marquez. Podiums in Misano and Motegi set up a potentially strong end to his year but that was denied by a horrific broken ankle sustained during practice at Phillip Island. After undergoing surgery the British rider was ruled out for the remainder for 2018.

After a productive but painful return to action during 2019 pre-season testing, Crutchlow made an emotion racing comeback with a podium at the opener in Qatar. But with a tough-handling Honda to keep under control, just two podium finishes followed for the rest of the year as he claimed third place at Sachsenring and second place at Phillip Island.

Remainig at LCR, the Covid-delayed 2020 season began with a fractured wrist in warm-up at Jerez but, after surgery, Crutchlow was back on the grid for the following weekend's Andalucian round. More physical woes followed when a mid-season arm pump operation caused problems with fluid build-up and he was declared unfit for the Misano events. Compounding those issues were ongoing handling problems with the Honda, all of which meant Crutchlow didn't better eighth place and - with Alex Marquez being moved to LCR to make way for Pol Espargaro in 2021 - the Englishman's future options were limited to a possible race seat at Aprilia.

But with the years of racing clearly taking their toll on his body and missing his family during the Covid travel restrictions, Crutchlow ultimately chose to 'retire', although also promptly signed-up to replace Jorge Lorenzo as Yamaha's official MotoGP test and wild-card rider.

One or two race appearances were predicted for 2021, but with Petronas Yamaha's Franco Morbidelli then injured and Maverick Vinales splitting from the factory Monster Yamaha team, Crutchlow found himself on replacement duty in Austria (two races for SRT), Silverstone and Aragon (with Monster Yamaha). Contary to his previous reputation for pushing over the limits, Crutchlow finished all four races, albeit outside the points.

Crutchlow remains as Yamaha's official MotoGP test rider for 2022.

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