Michelin saw its hard compound front and rear wet weather tyres put to perfect use today as Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) raced to his premiere MotoGP™ victory in very changeable conditions at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix České Republiky in Brno.
Crutchlow was one of only three riders to match front and rear hard MICHELIN Power Rain tyres after torrential rain had soaked the 5,403m circuit this morning. With the rain clouds clearing, the 22-lap race was declared wet, but tyre choice was always going to be a big factor as the track began to dry. Crutchlow started from 10th on the grid and had been relegated to 15th by the end of lap-one as he used the early laps to find the limits of his tyres and get optimum heat into the rubber. The Englishman then began his march through the field before taking the lead on lap-16, from last week’s winner Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) and pulling away to complete a historic victory, made even more special as Crutchlow became the first British winner of a premier class motorcycle race since Barry Sheene in 1981. His victory also secured the position of First Independent Team Rider and comes hot-on-the-heels of him becoming a father for the first time just three-weeks ago.
The battle for the remaining podium places was an enthralling encounter which saw many riders change places throughout the race. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) eventually took second place as he put his hard rear wet ̶ which he paired with a soft front ̶ to work and made his way through the field after dropping to 13th on lap-seven. Filling the final podium position was championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), he used the soft tyre front and rear configuration and preserved his rubber on the drying track to take a hard-fought third. Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) showed his wet weather prowess to take fourth ̶ whilst also using the double hard tyre option ̶ and lead home a quintet of Ducatis which included his team-mate Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) in fifth, Eugene Laverty (Pull & Bear Aspar Team) sixth and Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich) taking seventh. Austrian Grand Prix winner Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) was eighth and the final Ducati in the five-man Italian marque’s battle. Maverick Viñales (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) rode to ninth with Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) – the third rider on the all-hard tyre option – rounding out the top-ten.
The tricky conditions today saw many riders choose the soft front and rear wet tyre selection as they expected the rain to return, or the track to dry significantly enough to enable a flag-to-flag bike change for different tyres and set-up. With the weather causing neither choice to be an option, tyre conservation was ultimately an important factor with wear increasing as the track dried. These unusual circumstances led to some riders having to ride to preserve soft full wet tyres not designed for drying circuits, whilst others were able to manage their machines to get the best out of their choice of rubber, but it all led to a very exciting event for the 82,066 fans that were at trackside and also saw no crashes throughout the entire race.
Michelin will now stay at Brno for a one-day test on the Monday, before heading to its next overseas race, this time crossing the English Channel as the MotoGP paddock heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix on Sunday 4th September.
Cal Crutchlow – LCR Honda:
“I’m very, very pleased to get this win today as it’s something very special for my career. I have been close to winning a few times before, but I am really pleased with the tyre choice that I made today. We took the gamble after I had spoken to Michelin on the grid and I said listen I’m going to go with the hard/hard and they said they thought it was the right choice. I knew that after three or four laps I would be competitive, but it was quite difficult to manage the tyres at the start of the race, because I needed to get the heat in them. I knew once I got going it was the right choice of tyres and I’m really happy with this result for me and my team.”
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“Today we had another strange race that saw the conditions change and tyre choice become a big factor on the result. We had the first three riders all using different combinations of soft and hard rain tyres to try and get the best performance on the drying track. Cal Crutchlow made a courageous decision to go with a hard pairing and as the race progressed it was obvious to see that this was the right choice for him. Some other riders suffered extreme wear from the softer version as the track dried, this was because the tyre is designed for full wet conditions.
“Previous to today though we were very pleased with the performance of our slick tyres in the dry at Brno. The new rear tyres we brought here gave the riders increased traction and enabled Marc Marquez to set the best-lap ever recorded here by a motorcycle, with Jorge Lorenzo also going under the previous best-lap record. This was another step forward for us and one we will build on as the season progresses, we will now have a day-long test here tomorrow, where we will work on strategies for the remainder of this season and also on some new tyres for 2017.”