| | Elec­tron­ics is­sue leaves bat­tling Brit down and out of sea­son-opener

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - AT QATAR MO­TOGP REPORTER si­mon.patterson@mo­tor­cy­cle­

Light­ning struck twice for luck­less Cal Crutchlow on Sun­day when he crashed out of the open­ing round of the 2016 Mo­togp sea­son – with an elec­tron­ics prob­lem vir­tu­ally the same as the one that wrecked his Du­cati de­but at the track in 2014.

It all went wrong for the Brit when the elec­tron­ics on his LCR Honda be­came ‘lost’ and were un­able to pin­point where he was on the cir­cuit.

Shift­ing the blame from ei­ther his LCR team or Honda on to new con­trol elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­turer Mag­neti Marelli, Crutchlow was left with a ma­chine that didn’t know where it was on track, caus­ing him to en­ter a cor­ner with no en­gine brak­ing, re­sult­ing in a high-speed exit into the gravel.

“Some­thing broke with the bike that wasn’t Honda’s fault or our fault, so you can imag­ine whose fault it is and I ended up crash­ing be­cause of it,” fumed Crutchlow who was in sev­enth when he crashed. “I braked ear­lier than the lap be­fore, yet I went into the cor­ner 60kph faster be­cause I had no en­gine brak­ing, it was like I had pulled the clutch in.

“Af­ter lap one, the bike didn’t know where it was on the cir­cuit. I had no speed in the straight, the trac­tion con­trol was com­ing on in se­cond, third, fourth, fifth gear, and then the rest of the lap I would have trac­tion con­trol or I wouldn’t, I’d have anti-wheelie or I wouldn’t, I’d have en­gine brake or I wouldn’t. Ba­si­cally, the bike was in the first sec­tor and yet thought it was in the fourth sec­tor.”

Crash­ing out on the sev­enth lap, Crutchlow ad­mit­ted that the fall had come as a bit­ter blow con­sid­er­ing how strong he be­lieved his pace to be for Sun­day’s race. Strug­gling in the early stages of the week­end to come to grips with the elec­tron­ics, he said he was con­fi­dent for the race.

“I kept some­thing in my pocket all week­end; I didn’t want to show my cards. I knew in warm-up I was in good shape for the race, be­cause we had race dis­tance on the tyres and were still do­ing a good pace.

“I’m more dis­ap­pointed than any­thing else now, be­cause it cost me the eas­i­est fifth place I’ve had in the past year. The pace wasn’t that high, I was sit­ting there com­fort­ably and feel­ing great on the bike and then some­thing that wasn’t my fault took it away.”

With a pre-sea­son tar­get of tak­ing the fight to the other satel­lite bikes on the grid as well as the Rep­sol Honda fac­tory boys, Crutchlow has been able to come away from Qatar see­ing the pos­i­tives, how­ever small they might be.

“We were quick enough to be away with the fac­tory bikes, and I felt like if I could have got away with Dani and Mav­er­ick in the next two laps, I could have gone across to the lead­ing group - if things were work­ing. We have to fix a few things with the bike, sure, be­cause we had a lot of prob­lems, but the team gave me a bike good enough to be chal­leng­ing the fac­tory guys on.”

‘I was in good shape and could have got across to the lead­ing group’

‘I braked ear­lier than the lap be­fore, yet I went into the turn 60kph faster’

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