Cal Crutchlow so 'novice' on MotoGP return he ‘might as well have orange bib on’

Cal Crutchlow settles back into the rigours of MotoGP racing life as he turns his first competitive wheel of 2021 with the Petronas SRT Yamaha squad

Cal Crutchlow - Petronas SRT Yamaha

Cal Crutchlow wasn’t mincing his words as he revealed just how rusty he felt on the Yamaha M1 as he turned his first race weekend laps of the 2021 MotoGP season in practice for the Styrian MotoGP.

The Briton is starting a three-race stint with the Petronas SRT Yamaha team in place of the injured Franco Morbidelli, with this weekend’s event at the Red Bull Ring his first proper outing since his final round for LCR Honda in Portimao 2020.

With only modest mileage on the M1 since joining Yamaha as its development rider, Crutchlow admits he was feeling a little out of his depth going through the motions initially, adding that while he felt he was ‘flying’ on the bike, his times - 2.2s off the leading pace - made him out to be a ‘novice’

"First thing I did today, I let the clutch out but couldn't turn enough and when the lock was on my fingers hit the ride-height adjuster,” he joked. “The bike was nearly stalling and I was nearly falling off it, so I just let go of the handlebar and the bike took off.

"You can imagine it wasn’t the easiest first few laps. The best thing is that you think you’re going fast, but the reality is I might as well have had an orange bib on like a novice!

"I was behind Jack [Miller] for the first two laps and I was staying with him; I was like 'this is brilliant'. Two-three laps later I ran a little wide and they went away.

"But I felt like I was flying. The bike was shaking, wheeling, and it felt like I was going well. But my lap timer wasn't working and in reality I was five seconds off the lap record or something! But that’s the way it feels – it feels like you’re going super-fast when the reality is you’re not."

"After five months off, everything feels alien, even sitting in this chair in my leathers feels alien, let alone riding the bike. Handlebar positions, brake positions, everything just takes time to understand.

"I tried to explain it to someone earlier. Imagine the top marathon runners in the world, running in the best races in the world and then suddenly saying 'I’m not going to run for five months', but their first run back is running with (Eliud) Kipchoge. That’s what it’s like. I’m riding against the best guys in the world."

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