Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Crutchlow: MotoGP’s brave heart

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Crutchlow: MotoGP’s brave heart

It’s taken him 98 races and 92 crashes but it’s all been worth it – Crutchlow has finally made it all the way to the top

Andrea Iannone one week, Cal Crutchlow the next; what a difference a week makes. It’s hard to think of two more different winners in the MotoGP paddock: Iannone, the tattooed, coiffured bad boy so in love with himself, and Crutchlow, the scruffy, amiable family man who would happily wrestle a grizzly bear if you gave him half the chance.

Crutchlow’s win at Brno was hugely popular within the paddock because he’s one of the good guys; usually joking, often a bit rude and always straight down the line. He says what he thinks and damn the consequences. Within the shiny MotoGP bubble, where pretence and smoke and mirrors dazzle way too many people, Crutchlow stands out like a greasy-haired rocker in a bunch of preening, perfumed mods. What you see is what you get.

The 30-year-old has talent, make no mistake about that. But if Valentino Rossi’s skill has a glint of the divine about it, then his is entirely earthly, dug out at the coal face of racing: blood, sweat and tears all the way.

Crutchlow works hard, goes about his job, trips up rather too often, but doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, because very few people know what it’s like trying to match Marc Marquez on an RC213V. He is currently top of the 2016 crashing league with 16 tumbles so far, including Saturday’s huge get-off in which he wrote off an RCV in one go. In typical Cal speak, he apologised to his team for “sending the bike to the graveyard”. Over the past six and a half years he has crashed a MotoGP bike 92 times.

It’s one thing to crash a lot; it’s very much another to keep coming back for more – to suck up the pain, face down the fear and yank open the throttle once again. “I like to suffer,” he told me a while back.

Carlos Checa was the same. The Spaniard, who beat Mick Doohan in his prime on a 500 and later won the World Superbike title, was another who fell off rather too often but always limped back to the pits, climbed aboard his spare bike and went even faster. His crew stood wide-eyed in awe, because even in top-level bike racing this isn’t normal. I recall seeing one of Checa’s mechanics wandering around the paddock with his legs bowed, saying “clank, clank!”. I asked him what it was all about. “It’s Carlos,” he grinned. “And his big balls of steel."

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

Really good piece, Cal goes up a notch as a geezer in my opinion, nice touch with Mexico.

Under normal dry conditions, it's getting tough for a satellite bike to achieve top ten placing. We now have eight full factory bikes on the grid, all competitive. There will be the odd DNF, but gone are the days of regular podiums (like when Ducati were in the mire).

So definitely well done to Cal for making the right tyre call and delivering.

It mystifies me why people complain about Crutchlow's attidude and the things he says.   Motorcycle racing is dangerous and motorcycle racers should be dangerous people to mess with.   

Slick, professional corperate minded media savvy sponsor slaves shouldn't be the majority of the paddock.   We need wild men or wild women who say what they think and mean what they say and are happy to rattle cages because they can.

'Boring and keeps his mouth shut' shouldn't be the main attracting features of a rider to join a team.  

Mick Doohan and Randy Mamola should be Dorna's Media Officers in charge of training young riders on how to act :)  

 

 

Dream on. Wild men and $20 million bikes don't mix - MotoGP is a corporate branding exercise. if you want nature red in tooth and claw, take a boat trip to the Isle of Man or Portstewart.

A lot of it. So with statements like "Slick, professional corperate minded media savvy sponsor slaves shouldn't be the majority of the paddock." it should be immediately clear why they are and always will be. Or rather, why riders who know better than to piss off sponsors and do provide good "wholesome" market value continue get rides and riders who don't, don't. I'm also pretty certain that bar one or two genuine exceptions, such as Gino Rea with his manyfold money-making endeavours (coffee pads? selfie sticks?) while running his own team in Moto2, none of the current crop of riders in any class are even the least bit corporate-minded. If they were, they wouldn't be racing motorbikes.

I get your yearning for the bike racer ideal of yesteryear when smack-talking tough men had a quick last smoke on the grid and snogged their wife or latest trophy Betty before throwing themselves around a circuit "secured" with straw bales on deathly machines, but someone has to pay for all that fun if they can't do it themselves and very few can. Tobacco is gone and of the "edgy" energy drinks only Monster encourages wilder behaviour to a certain extend, the rest will all and always prefer the racer they can market to the largest amount of people to project their hopes and dreams into. I believe there've been a few instances in the past where public fallouts, controversial statements in the media and general misbehaviour caused one sponsor or other to withdraw their personal support from select riders. Withdrawing money then is a lesson. Riders don't "behave", they don't get money. They don't get money, they don't race. Easy choice.

What people don't get is the humor, it's British humor. They don't understand it so they think Cal's being a twat, he isn't.  Like the wimps comment, 100% british humor and all the other riders get it.  He's just having a go. 

I will tell you one thing about Cal.  At Laguna one year, may have been his first there, maybe the 2nd, I forget which.  We leave the circuit on race day, after everything was done.  Staying in Carmel, so only about a 10-15 minute drive once you get out of the old Fort (circuit).  You drive out of the bowl, out of the old Fort, then hit the highway, which runs along the ocean.  It couldn't have been much more than an hour after the race had finished.  Anyway, we are loaded up and driving and we see a guy on a pedal bike, in the full Lance Armstrong getup.  We slow down, look over and it's Cal.  That damn race had just finished and he's already on his bike, getting training in.  That's some big brass ones.  After a hard day of riding at the track or out in the twisty farm roads here, the last thing I'm thinking about is jumping on my MTB or going to the gym to lift. 

I remember commenting on some other forum when Crutchlow was first coming to MotoGP that his survival and success could be dictated by the crashes that he had and his reaction to them.

Now we know his reaction, he is a good crasher, one that doesn't permanently lose confidence and one that has managed to avoid serious injury despite going down the road an unbelievable 92 times

Maybe traction control has made MotoGP safer. I am sure that if a bigger proportion of those crashes had been going over the top 500 style we wouldn't be talking about them so happily.