LCR Honda CASTROL’s Cal Crutchlow opened his 2019 MotoGP account with a stunning third place in the curtain-raising Grand Prix of Qatar on Sunday, which was made all the more remarkable by the fact that it was his first race back after suffering a career-threatening injury in Australia last October.
Crutchlow had a horrific ankle-break just four months ago, and only started walking again in January, however the British hero was in remarkable form under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in the Gulf state. He battled hard for victory throughout the epic 22-lap race, and having retaken third place from rival Alex Rins on the final lap, held out to finish just three-tenths behind the eventual winner Andrea Dovizioso, marking an unbelievable comeback ride.
It means back-to-back podium finishes for the 33 year-old, who next up heads to the scene of his last grand prix victory, the Termas de Rio Honda circuit in Argentina.
LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider Takaaki Nakagami made an impressive start to the 2019 MotoGP World Championship as he took ninth place in a thrilling Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday. Having set off from ninth on the grid, the Japanese star was involved at the front of the field throughout and eventually settled for a creditable top 10 finish to begin the season in fine style.
Having underlined his potential in qualifying, Taka again demonstrated that he will be a force during his second year in the premier class as he maintained a top 10 position throughout. His performance completed a superb weekend for LCR Honda as team-mate Cal Cructhlow secured a podium finish on his return from injury in Doha.
Cal Crutchlow: “It’s great to even be back racing in MotoGP, let alone come away with a podium finish, but my LCR Honda Castrol Team did a great job. We worked hard this weekend because the tests were a bit of a waste of time for me. This weekend has been difficult, and if you had asked me after warm-up if I’d finish on the podium I would have laughed!”
“I played my cards in the race, I felt good and once we started the race myself and Marc Marquez had similar tactics – saving the rear tyre and managing things a little bit more.”
“What a great start to the season for everybody, for my team, for the riders and the fans here in Qatar and for the people watching at home. It seems every race in MotoGP is always a battle and it was nice to be in it and race and get a podium. It’s a dream to be honest. At one point we didn’t know if I was going to be coming back at all.”
Takaaki Nakagami: “It was a bit of a struggle today, but I’m really comfortable on the bike and, especially at the start of the race, I felt really strong. Last year, I struggled to get the speed I wanted after the start, but this time there was a real improvement I think. After that I was a little bit disturbed by (Joan) Mir and (Jack) Miller during the race. After that I tried to overtake them and maintain my rhythm and, in the end, the lap time was quite good”.
“The race was good and I’m really happy to finish in the top 10, of course we can still improve but, for the first race, P9 is not so bad. The team looks happy so I’m happy as well!