Crutchlow ‘feeling better than result looks’

Cal Crutchlow goes through another ‘tough day’, placing 17th at the Qatar test; “I think we have a lot of work to do to be in a situation where we can battle at the first race.”
Crutchlow ‘feeling better than result looks’

Cal Crutchlow has stated he wasn’t overly bothered by the final classification at the final MotoGP preseason test of 2019, but admitted “a lot of work” remains ahead should he wish to be competitive at next weekend’s curtain opener.

The Englishman encountered a number of issues across the three days, as he was continually playing catch-up after missing the two tests last November, thanks to the serious injury to his right ankle sustained at Phillip Island.

Aside from testing a number of items for HRC in Qatar, Crutchlow battled a lack of front end feel across the three days, a sensation he has yet to remedy with the season just over one week away.



On Monday iffy track conditions, a host of considerable set-up changes and a crash at the final corner limited the 33-year old to 39 laps of running. And while 17th overall wasn’t ideal, Crutchlow’s best time of the test was only 1.039s off Maverick Viñales’ fastest time.

“A tough day but I feel a lot better than the result looks on paper,” said Crutchlow on Monday. “We used one set of new tyres all day. I started on used tyres and I put in a new set of mediums so I didn’t use the soft tyres. So I’m not worried about lap times.

“I was more working with the bike, but we were limited because I only had one bike today. What I needed to try and change, there was minimal track, because by 6pm the wind was that strong.

“I felt quite good with the bike when I went out, I gave some good information and then I had a crash in the last corner. With one bike we needed to change something which took a long time. I got back out after, did a run, and then what we wanted to try required a 30 minute change. That’s just the way it was.

“I think we have a lot of work to do to be in a situation where we can battle at the first race. I think Marc’s in a little bit better shape than us, but he’s had two bikes to work with over these three days.

“I wasn’t in Jerez and I still don’t feel very good with the front of the bike at all. I’m far off what I was here last year, but I feel a lot more confident than the result shows. That’s for sure. I look forward to racing here.”

Crutchlow’s struggles came as something of surprise after his fast ultra-competitive showing at the Sepang test in early February, his first outing on a motorcycle since free practice at last year’s Australian Grand Prix.

Riding-wise Crutchlow feels strong. There are, however, many things to correct on the '19 RC213V before the first round.

“I feel good in myself,” he said. “I feel good riding-wise, but I don’t feel good with the bike. It’s as simple as that. We’ll see what happens. I think Marc is also not feeling 100 percent with the bike at the moment but he’s still competitive and fast, as we knew he was always going to be.

“Jorge, the information he’s giving is going to be different because he’s been on different machines. What we expect of our machine, he doesn’t expect because he didn’t ride the old one. But he’s doing a good job as well. He’s giving good information, which is key to improving the package.

“We’ll see in a couple of weeks how the season starts. In the end I’m confident enough for the season. But for the first race we’ll have to see what bike we have here.”

One lingering effect of the recovering tailus bone in his ankle, which was fractured in 17 places during that Philip Island fall, has been his discomfort when operating the rear brake aboard the Honda RC213V.

“I felt better in Malaysia honestly than here. But this is a place which emphasises a lot that we have problems, that we do. But we have to take the positives, that we’re here racing and we’re really struggling with the rear brake.

“I thought I could use it like normal. I can use the pressure like normal and the range of movement is good, but I can’t release it. I can’t pick my foot up off it so in the end I have it on 100 percent and I don’t even know that I’m doing it.

“So the range of movement is not good with regards to that – it’s just I can’t get my foot off the brake. Let’s see in a few weeks.”

On his target for the 2019 season as a whole, the three-time Grand Prix race winner added, “I can’t say. I have no idea. Of course I want to win races and of course I want to be up there in the championship but at the moment it doesn’t look fantastic.

“But that’s at the moment. There are other people with better rhythm than us. When I came to this race last year I had very good pace. But I’m not worried, that’s for sure.”