Crutchlow: 2019 toughest Honda season by far

Cal Crutchlow believes 2019 has been his most difficult season since joining Honda “by far”; “I don't think people don't understand how hard [Marc Marquez] is having to ride.”
Crutchlow: 2019 toughest Honda season by far

Cal Crutchlow believes 2019 has been his most difficult in MotoGP with Honda “by far” after finishing the Dutch Grand Prix in seventh place, and that the general public is unaware “how hard” Marc Marquez is riding to lead the championship.

The eighth round represented another tough weekend for Crutchlow, who battled a lack of front-end feel and engine braking issues to claim seventh place despite running wide several times – “not a bad result,” according to the Englishman.

On Saturday Crutchlow claimed his 17th place in FP4 was “the reality” of his current predicament, as he battled with his Honda RC213V when turning between Assen’s numerous changes of direction.

And while Marc Marquez has streaked ahead to a 44-point lead in the world championship, Crutchlow believes the Catalan is having to ride harder than ever to overcome these difficulties.

“Oh yeah, by far,” was Crutchlow’s response to whether this has been his toughest season since joining Honda in 2015. “It's hard. But I don't think it's hard for just me.

“I think the only one it's not hard for is Taka [Nakagami on the ’18 RC213V]. That's honest. I think Marc is riding harder and better than he has before to make it work so that he is leading the championship.

“To finish the race in the positions he is finishing in I don't think people don't understand how hard he is having to ride to do that. I know you can see it on TV, but I ride the bike, and I know how hard he is having to ride to do it.”

On his race to seventh place, during which he threatened to challenge the factory Ducatis in a fierce fight for fourth place, Crutchlow said, “A hard race, as we expected. To finish seventh is not a bad result, I think, considering that we were having a bad weekend.

“That was clear to see. And it was quite difficult for us this weekend here, us being Honda as well. I think it was clear to see that we were struggling more than the other manufacturers here.

“Marc made a great race and I felt I made a good race. I just ran off the track too many times. The bike was not turning great in the race. But I was able to ride the bike alone, that's for sure.

“Because I came across a 2.5 seconds gap to Petrucci, Mir, and Dovi, no problem. But as soon as I got there, I lost the rear going into turn one and went out of the track. I came back across again, and then I went out of the track again.

“I came across again, and I ran out of the track in the last chicane. It's the corner entry. Our problem is the turning, but then when you try and make the corner in and out, we brake hard, we lose the rear with the engine brake, with the instability of the engine brake.

“So I think that we did the best job we could today. I lost what we believe is about six seconds from running off the track, put me six seconds ahead and I'm in fourth, but you have to pass the guys. I had superior pace to the guys ahead of me.

“I made a good start, but when I braked into turn one – I always accelerate up to the corner and brake a little bit to make sure the brake is there, and then I brake like normal.

“But when I braked, there was no brake there because it wasn't warm enough. And then suddenly it slammed on and five guys came past me. So I had to try and battle through, and I did. I got rid of some guys, and started to come across that gap.

“But the gap was already 3 seconds to Morbidelli after five laps. But I tried my best and seventh is not a bad result considering that I was seventeenth this morning, most of the time I was twelfth.

“I told you I got lucky yesterday in qualifying, without the mistakes today, we could have made a good race, but as I said, I tried my best.”