CAL Crutchlow was within eight laps of claiming his best finish in MotoGP and possibly clawing back a place in the overall standings when he was flicked over the side of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine in the final round of the series at Valencia on Sunday.
Although qualifying fourth, a mere 0.084s away from the top three and a full second faster than Casey Stoner’s 2008 lap record on new asphalt, the Ramsey resident was one of four riders to make a late change of tyres at the end of the sighting lap.
He, Dani Pedrosa, Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista took note of the steadily drying conditions and changed mounts for a bike fitted with slick tyres. As a result, they started from pit lane and the gamble appeared to be paying off as most of their rivals had to stop after the opening few circuits to follow suit.
From 21st place he was up to fifth in no time behind Jorge Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Stefan Bradl. He soon moved up a couple more places to third and was elevated to second place behind Pedrosa with 16 laps to go when new world champion Lorenzo was high-sided spectacularly attempting a wide line round lapped Briton James Ellison.
It was all looking good for Crutchlow, with main rivals Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi eighth and 11th respectively.
But the Yamaha appeared to momentaily stand up on a damp patch and, in a split-second, the unfortunate Coventry ace had been flicked onto the left-hand side of the bike.
He held on for 30 metres, keeping the bike upright, but was eventually forced to let go and somesaulted to a halt in the gravel.
It was a disappointing end to the season for the 27-year-old who had been hoping for another podium finish to round off the year in style.
He remained in seventh place overall in the final standings.
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