Cal Crutchlow has insisted he hasn’t missed racing one bit since retiring as a full-time MotoGP rider.
The three-time MotoGP race winner has come out of retirement again to replace Andrea Dovizioso in the RNF Yamaha team for the final six rounds of the season. Dovizioso called it quits mid-season after a year of struggle for the Italian veteran. Crutchlow, a Yamaha test and reserve rider, was not looking to return but is happy to be back, even if he admits he hasn’t always enjoyed the racing aspect of the sport.
“Not really,” he tells Daily Star Sport after being asked if he has missed racing regularly. “I actually really enjoy to watch it from a fans’ perspective. I’m like most people at home, an armchair fan who thinks they can win the race! Obviously, I can’t, I only won three in my whole career. But it’s great to watch.
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“I enjoy not being there [at the races]. I miss the competitive side. The strange thing was, I used to hate racing. The race was the worst part about the weekend. Practice, qualifying, everything was great, but the race, I didn’t really enjoy the racing side of it.
“I enjoy battling with people, I enjoyed having that, ‘I want to beat you, you want to beat me’ side of things. That’s what I missed when I stopped, the competitive side of it.
“And I’ve lost my competitive side. I don’t need to be competitive anymore. When I do my testing, I ride to my lap time, I try to try and improve the bike for Fabio [Quartararo], for Franco [Morbidelli], for the Yamaha riders. So you sort of lose that [competitiveness], that’s the bit you miss, racing against people and seeing friends, stuff like that.
“When I stopped, I think I stopped at the right time. I’ve been retired twice now and at the end of the year, I’ll have been retired for a third time! It’s strange to keep coming back.”
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Having retired at the end of 2020, Crutchlow made a flurry of Yamaha appearances last season for both the factory and satellite teams as an injury replacement. He believes he is better prepared this time.
“I’ve been actively testing this year so I’ve been on the bike more than I was last year,” he says. “When I came in last year, I hadn’t ridden a bike for five months, not even touched a bike.
“So this time, it’s a bit of a different situation. The problem is that the class is so competitive now, so fast. The riders are getting better and better, the pace every weekend is faster, so it’s not going to be easy.
“I’m getting older and they’re getting younger, it feels! But it’s good to be back. MotoGP has been part of my life for so long, and it’s not like I’m walking into playing tennis for a living. I know what I’m doing.”
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