Cal Crutchlow: Barry Sheene comparisons incredible
MotoGP points leader Cal Crutchlow says the comparisons being made between himself and Britain's last premier class championship leader Barry Sheene are “incredible”.
The LCR Honda rider tallied up his third MotoGP victory last time out in Argentina, and became the first British rider to lead the top class standings since double 500cc title winner Sheene in 1979.
Crutchlow – who was born six years after a Briton last stood atop the standings – says it has been “humbling” to have been mentioned in the same breath as Sheene ever since he ended Britain's 35-year wait for a premier class race winner at Brno in 2016.
However, Crutchlow feels he is riding well regardless of what the records state, and says he still has “work to do” to match Sheene's success.
“That happened in 1979 and I wasn't born for another six years,” Crutchlow said to motogp.com when asked about the significance of his points lead.
“It makes me feel very proud, but I think I'm doing a good job whatever the history books say because in Argentina I was racing guys like Alex [Rins] and Jack [Miller] who are 10 years younger than me.
“When I won in Brno everybody was talking about it being the first win for a British rider in the premier class since Barry Sheene and comparing me to him, which was incredible.
“Just to be spoken in the same sentence as Barry was very humbling. But he won many races and two titles, and I've only won three races, so I've got some work to do.”
Likelihood of independent team champion small
Crutchlow is contracted directly to Honda, with his LCR team receiving full factory support this year.
Despite this, and his belief that he can fight for the championship, the Briton thinks the sheer manpower and the resources a works team has will still make it hard for smaller satellite outfits to mount a serious title tilt.
“If I didn't believe I could do it or the team could do it, then there is no point in me turning up,” he added.
“It will be very, very difficult and in all honesty the likelihood is no. The factories have so many more resources compared to an independent team that it will take something very special to do it.
“Being a factory rider as I am, I've got great support from Honda. But there is a lot that goes into winning. An independent team might have 30 staff, but a factory has 90.
“And we need to see what happens when the factories begin to develop their machinery with new parts once we get to Europe because that can be when the time gap in performance widens.
“I'm happy with the package I've got and competitive with it, and I'm confident I can get stronger.
“What I do know is that Dorna and [CEO] Carmelo Ezpeleta have done an outstanding job to create a series where guys not on a factory bike or in a factory team have a great opportunity to be competitive.”