Cal Crutchlow labelled MotoGP the “best motorsport event in the world” after the Qatar season opener featured an eight-rider battle for the win for much of the race.
The LCR rider was in podium contention for much of the 22-lap race alongside both factory Hondas, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, the respective works and satellite Ducatis of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci, Suzuki’s Alex Rins and polesitter Johann Zarco (Tech3).
Eventual race winner Dovizioso, Marc Marquez and Rossi broke away from the rest in the final five laps, with Crutchlow a lonely fourth and several seconds clear of the battle for fifth.
Crutchlow praised MotoGP organiser Dorna and its influence on a series in which there is “no one dominating”.
“I could see myself in the middle and I could see three guys to the right in the pitlane exit bit,” he said. “I was thinking ‘this must be good to watch for you lot’.
“[It was] a great start to the championship for many teams, riders and fans of the championship.
“We have to give credit to MotoGP as a whole, the rule system as well, because that’s what gives us the close racing.
“A lot of different manufacturers are up there, there’s no one dominating as such, and that’s credit to Carmelo [Ezpeleta, Dorna CEO] and the way they’ve done the rules.
“We know that this is the best motorsport event in the world. Even Moto3 and Moto2 [has] great racing; Moto2 was strung out a little bit, but the battle was good.”
Crutchlow said he felt he could have won Sunday’s race, but took too long to clear Zarco and lost touch with Rossi, who finished just 0.797 seconds behind Dovizioso after passing Zarco with five laps to go.
“I was sat in fifth place thinking I could win, but when the crunch came [it didn’t work out],” he added.
“I was with Vale and thought I could pass him, but I knew Vale was going to be there at the end, so I thought just sit pretty, sit comfortable, stay behind him.
“Then he passed Zarco, and I got stuck behind Zarco for one lap and I lost one second in one lap; I did a 1m56.6s, the front guys did 1m55.6s.
“Then, the next lap I did a 1m55.6s, passing Zarco and trying to come across the gap [to the leaders], but they did a 1m55.2s because they were battling, pushing a lot.”