LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow said that if you had told him before the race he would be stood on the podium in the opening MotoGP race of the season, he would have laughed after finishing third under the floodlights in Qatar.
The Brit, who is still recovering from a badly broken ankle toward the back end of the 2018 season, had been struggling in the free practice sessions, however, once the lights went out, Crutchlow found himself in the leading group from the off.
After battling with factory Suzuki duo Joan Mir and Alex Rins, Crutchlow held off Rins in the final lap join Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez on the podium, something he wasn’t expecting.
“It’s great to be back and to be able to be back to race in MotoGP, let alone be on the podium,” said the experienced Brit.
“My team did a great job; we worked hard this weekend because the tests were a bit of a waste of time for me. Also this weekend has been a difficult for me.
“If you had told me after warm up finishing fourteenth that I was going to be on the podium, I would have laughed.
“I played my cards right in the race. I felt good and once we started the race, I think me and Marc had a similar tactic to save the rear tyre and manage a little bit more. But then if we started to push the front we would have some problems with the front.
“So then as Marc said, we started to ride with the rear and it’s difficult to ride in that situation. It seems every race in MotoGP is always a battle and it was nice to be in it and nice to come here and get a podium.
“It’s a dream to be honest and we didn’t know that I was going to be coming back at all at one point, let alone to come back and get a podium and to be so competitive.”
Crutchlow said that his surgically repaired ankle wasn’t giving him any issues, although contact in the opening stages of the race left him with a slightly different problem.
“Honestly, not to make a joke, my ass on the left cheek, somebody hit me with their foot peg and I couldn’t feel for fifteen laps,” he said. “But I have no idea who it was!
“But my ankle was fine; I had no problem with the ankle at all. I only had trouble two times in the race, I got my foot stuck on the brake leaver, but the reason I didn’t move it was because I couldn’t move my ass.”