Cal Crutchlow delighted as he follows in footsteps of Barry Sheene

Cal Crutchlow celebrates on the podium after winning in the Czech Republic

Cal Crutchlow celebrates on the podium after winning in the Czech Republic

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Cal Crutchlow became the first British winner of a premier class Grand Prix race since Barry Sheene 35 years ago as he won Sunday’s Czech Republic MotoGP round at Brno.

The Coventry rider gambled with hard Michelin wets front and rear and as the opposition began to flounder around him, he charged through on the drying track to take control, pulling clear to win by more than seven seconds from Valentino Rossi.

The 30-year- old’s victory was a landmark achievement in motorcycling’s top tier championship, coming more than three decades after bike racing legend Sheene’s final GP victory in Sweden in 1981.

“I’m really pleased and obviously it’s been a long time coming. I’ve been close at a couple of races like Sachsenring [where Crutchlow finished second] and some others in the past, but nothing is greater than winning,” he said.

“Sure, we won a tricky race, but I made the best tyre choice on the grid and I felt that if I went with the hard, rear I had to go with the hard front.

“Honestly, it’s the best feeling in the world because yesterday I made a disaster and I had to say sorry to my team and to Honda because I don’t think there was any conceivable part left on the bike because it must’ve went six-and- a-half feet in the air – just the engine.

“The revs were completely destroyed so they had to work really hard to build me a bike for today and it’s really nice to repay them.”

Crutchlow felt in total control in the closing stages and said he was able to ‘cruise around’ to close out the win because his grip levels were far superior as the race neared a conclusion.

“It’s a long race I can tell you and it’s a long race when Lucio [Cecchinello] is hanging over pit wall, jumping up and down,” Crutchlow said.

“If I could have taken my hand off the bar I would’ve stuck my middle finger up to say, ‘go back inside to the garage and have a coffee or something!’

“I had so much grip compared to the other guys and I was cruising around. I knew the race would come to me in then end. It was really difficult on the first five laps, not with the front really, but with the rear tyre on the left-hand side because it was difficult to heat but once it started to dry it was perfect,” he added.

“It was 35 years since Barry Sheene won a Grand Prix and to be mentioned in the same sentence as him is some really nice and it’s perfect timing for the crowds for Silverstone.”

Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi finished over seven seconds back in second place with championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) completing the rostrum.

Avintia Ducati duo Loris Baz and Hector Barbera finished fourth and fifth respectively, withNorthern Ireland’s Eugene Laverty an excellent sixth.