They make ’em tough in Coventry. And they’d be hard pressed to make one much tougher than Cal Crutchlow – this boy can bounce!
If you make it through a motorcycle racing career without injury then you simply didn’t ride fast enough, but 27-year-old Crutchlow has had more than his fair share of bone-crushing – or snapping – incidents. He continues to impress however, by getting straight back on the horse following each fall – or rather, close to 250 horses.
Over the weekend Cal was forced to re-mount his steed again; during the opening minutes of the final practice session for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, the rear tyre of Cal’s Yamaha lost grip; the ‘bike bucked and dumped him unceremoniously on to the French ground. As the ‘Yam’ tumbled through the air, settling finally in a gravel trap, Cal laid on his side at the track’s edge.
All wasn’t well. With the session stopped, Cal was attended to by somewhat tentative marshals before having to visit the circuit’s medical centre. Just a formality, surely, as Cal cycled to his appointment on a push bike.
With doctor’s note in hand, Cal returned to the track shortly after and qualified his customer Yamaha-M1 fourth on the grid – heading the second row. Impressive, even in normal circumstances, but was Cal 100% fit?
No, he wasn’t.
A fractured Tibia was his reward for dumping the ‘bike earlier in the day, but what was more concerning were the immediate after-effects of his incident; it was only after the race on Sunday that Cal revealed “I was more concerned about the chest and stomach because I coughed a lot of blood up yesterday and had a nose bleed. So I’m thankful to the circuit for the red flag [in practice] because I was lying on the floor with blood in the helmet and didn’t know what the situation was, so I stayed on the floor.”
So how did Cal get on in that race with a fractured shin bone and “slight internal bleeding”? Oh, he only went and finished second! The blue-eyed British boy beat both the factory-supported Yamahas of World Champions Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, the super-star rookie Marc Marquez, both factory-supported Ducati machines and everybody else other than eventual winner Dani Pedrosa.
Fans will remember the heartbreak at last year’s British Grand Prix, when Cal was forced to start from last following a terrifying high-speed crash in qualifying. The plucky Brit competed in his home race despite a badly broken ankle. Still, he finished sixth, just 15 seconds behind the race winner.
I dare say that the incidents and accidents that would send many of us mere mortals running home to mummy and render us bed ridden for months only seem to spur Cal on.
MotoGP is a better series of motor racing because of riders like Cal. His ability to bounce back immediately and ride through immense pain is an old-school trait more often associated with the likes of Barry Sheene or Mick Doohan. It’s great to see and makes for some good headlines. But what could Cal achieve if he were to remain injury free? Or what if he could find himself on a factory-supported machine? It would be a tantalising prospect and one that hopefully isn’t too far from reality.