CRUTCHLOW ‘NO PRIZES FOR BE­ING TOP BRIT’

Honda rider is out to beat ev­ery­one in 2016

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON SPORTS RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com si­mon.pat­ter­son@m

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’

CAL CRUTCHLOW

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

Cal’s stick­ing with his LCR Honda RC213V for a sec­ond sea­son Cal wishes his ri­vals well, but not too well! With lim­ited laps on the Du­cati, Laverty heads to Sepang with plenty to do An­kle frac­tures sus­tained while rid­ing on dirt saw Miller go un­der the k

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