Crutchlow: Honda front-end is our strong point

Cal Crutchlow talks trade-off between reducing tyre stress and maintaining front-end advantage.
Crutchlow: Honda front-end is our strong point

It's no secret that one of HRC's targets for the 2019 RC213V is to reduce the workload on the front tyre, therefore allowing the possibility to race with softer compounds.

But, as LCR's Cal Crutchlow points out, the reason Honda riders work the front so much is because it's the biggest strength of the motorbike and where they gain relative to the competition.

And so, while it would be better to reduce reliance on the front-end by making other areas of the machine stronger, it would be a shame to lose the late-braking potential of the bike.

"The Honda front-end is our strong point," Crutchlow said. "A lot of the times [the front-end falls are down to] the riders being too greedy with the front. We keep taking advantage until it gives up… we over-stress the front and crash.

"My front-end feeling at the moment [with the 2019 bike] is the complete opposite. I feel I don’t have the load like last year…I don’t feel comfortable, but that’s me.

"I think the [2019] bike is better, I just need to adjust the bike more. I missed two tests on the 2019 bike and the team and I haven’t found the right setting yet."

Nonetheless, Crutchlow was sixth fastest (+0.541s) and top Honda on his return from ankle injuries at Sepang.

"Overall HRC has done a great job with the new bike. We can be competitive for the championship and I look forward to riding it this year.

"There is room for improvement with the fastest lap time and the consistency, but it must have cracked a few people to see me come back [from injury] and be fast!" he smiled.

Honda's reigning champion Marc Marquez was eleventh on his return from shoulder surgery and, like Crutchlow, is yet to show his full speed.

"Marc didn’t push himself. I think he pushed the bike to a good limit and he was competitive. He could’ve gone faster. He’s testing, as am I, and we got through the programme," said Crutchlow.

"I think the Honda in bad [hot] conditions was one of the strongest here… We still have three more days to test and I look forward to trying it again in Qatar."

The LCR rider also tipped Ducati test-leader Danilo Petrucci to be one of the surprises of the season.

"Petrucci is going to give Dovi a hard time," Crutchlow said, adding that the #9 is underestimated "because he came from Superbike."

Petrucci joined MotoGP in 2012 from the European Superstock 1000 Cup, while Crutchlow is one of the few riders to have won races in both WorldSBK and MotoGP.

The final MotoGP pre-season tests start in Qatar on Saturday, when the full Honda line-up will be on track with Jorge Lorenzo set to complete his first laps of the year after a wrist injury in training.