CRUTCHLOW ‘NO PRIZES FOR BEING TOP BRIT’
Honda rider is out to beat everyone in 2016
After finishing the season in eighth place and losing the accolade of top Brit rider, it’s fair to say 2015 was a disappointing year for Cal Crutchlow.
And, while the LCR Honda man says he’s expecting better things from his second season on the RCV213 after three manufacturers in three years, he’s admitted to MCN that the continuing problems of Big H won’t make it easy.
“I don’t think 2015 was a season that anyone wanted apart from Jorge! It was difficult for everyone, but especially if you were riding a Honda. I couldn’t come in and change the bike because I didn’t know it or the team, and it’s difficult to make improvements when you seal your engines at the first race.
“It wasn’t just the engine, though – there’s a few different parts that needed to be changed. But for now they seem to have concentrated on the engine, and that doesn’t seem to have worked yet. So we’re going into 2016 under difficult conditions too.”
Struggling to make the engine characteristics less aggressive and harsh – a symptom that Crutchlow says comes from having two phenomenal riders in the form of Casey Stoner and Marc Marquez play a key part in developing the machine – it may now be that the satellite riders will start the 2016 season on old machinery instead of the latest specification bike as Honda rush to remedy their problems.
“They can develop a bike, but they’re developing it their way. It’s not that their way is wrong, either; it’s just that no-one else can ride that way! No-one else is as special as them – if you put Jorge on a Honda I honestly don’t know if he’d finish in the top 10!
“The situation at the moment is that we’re starting the tests and maybe the first races on the same bike – exactly what I’ve rode for the last three quarters of a season. We have to wait for Honda though – they’re meticulous in what they do, and it’s a good way to do things. If I start the year on something bad, I might not have the option to change, but if I start on what I had last year I have the option to go to what they have when they decide what they’re doing.”
On top of engine issues, the Honda riders also face a potential disaster in the form of the new Michelin tyres. Offering much more rear grip than the old Bridgestones, they could prove calamitous on the more front-end focused Hondas, especially later in races.
This problem is already an issue on the Bridgestones, as experienced by Dani Pedrosa at Valencia when his race charge was halted when he needed to slow down to allow the tyres to cool, and Crutchlow says it could be the biggest factor in adapting to the Michelins.
“I think it’s common knowledge it’s been difficult for everyone adapting to them. Imagine if our package is the same – we’ll be ploughing the front like you won’t believe. We need to work on that, but that’s what testing is for.”
But despite the challenges facing him, Crutchlow nonetheless sounds relaxed about the year ahead. Building off the
‘ If you put Jorge on a Honda I honestly don’t know if he’d finish in the top 10’
consistency of his second year on the bike, as well as the good performances he did manage in 2015, itõs unlikely that Smith will have an easy walk to top Brit status again.
Ò2016 will be entertaining. The last time I stayed on a bike I was battling with Dovi on the Tech3 bike Ð and thatõs what I want to get back to. I feel I did a good job last year in certain races, but I can do better. Iõve learnt the bike now, which will help, but itõs going to be tough, especially at the start of the year.
ÒI want to beat the other British guys, but I want to beat the Italians, Spaniards and the Japanese too. You donõt get a championship for being top Brit or top satellite, and you donõt get any bonuses either!ó