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MotoGP EXCLUSIVE: Cal Crutchlow - Q&A

In this wide-ranging interview, Cal Crutchlow discusses his season with Ducati, his impending move to LCR Honda, his opinion of Jack Miller and more...
Crash.net
This year has obviously been a very important year for you, personally as well as professionally. It's you first year as a factory rider in MotoGP but you also got married, have you noticed any changes in yourself this year?

Cal Crutchlow:
Nothing has really changed, first and foremost, because I was with Lucy for six years before getting married and when you get married it's exciting but I didn't really see a major difference between us. We were happy and comfortable anyway but we always said that it would be nice to get married. I don't think that anything changed in our philosophy.

It's been a shame that this year didn't go to plan on track because it would have been nice to celebrate having a good year during the year that I got married. But I don't really look at it that way, I can separate my personal life with Lucy and my racing life. I know that there's more to life than racing, don't get me wrong I love racing and I love my job but over the past few years I've worked out that there's more to life than just riding a motorcycle.

Crash.net
What brought about that shift for you? Was it because last year you were able to see the work paying off and that you had proven you were a rider capable of starting from pole position and challenging for wins as opposed to when you were younger and you had to strive to prove that you belonged?

Cal Crutchlow
When you're younger and you want it you think that there's nothing else in your life and you'll do mental things to try and get it. You'll do some things that when you look back on them you think were completely crazy to do to warrant trying to get success. It's not really down to the crazy things that you do to get it, it's more about relaxing and feeling confident and comfortable.

Crash.net
So would you say that getting that success is nearly an extension of the adage that slow is fast?

If you're comfortable and happy you can ride better than if you're not, it's that simple.

Crash.net
How important is it to have your family around you with your dad on the pitboard and at the races?

Cal Crutchlow
It's not really like that. My dad comes to the races but I wouldn't say that he's involved in my racing as such. Sure he gets along great with the mechanics and the team and they welcome him with open arms.

Crash.net
So it's not like you see in tennis a lot where a parent is the coach or a real key figure in the background for a player?

Cal Crutchlow
Yeah, it's not like with some other riders where their dads are here, it's completely different for me. My dad comes because he wants to be here but not because he's got a job to be here or because he speaks to sponsors or to speak to my team. He doesn't do any of that because I've got myself and my management company to do that for me. He's here because he loves to be here and he loves bike racing and wants to do the pitboard. Of course I like him being here but I don't need him here like some other people need their parents here because they work for them as such.

Crash.net
Before you came to Ducati, you compete in the very family-orientated Tech 3 Yamaha team. There's been certain things that have happened throughout the season and you've looked to be outside the circle throughout. Is it fair to say that Dovizioso and Iannone are much closer to the factory?

Cal Crutchlow
That was from the word go as such. My team has been great to me, my side of the garage have been great. You could say that because I wasn't getting the results that it became more difficult from then on but I also believe that I wasn't riding very well so I'm not complaining and obviously then I took my decision around the summer.

Iannone is a factory rider as well though, he's paid by the factory and always has been, but I do believe that he got more support than me even at the start of year. I don't blame Ducati for that though because it's the way that it was and the way that it worked out. He was a factory rider as well and Ducati has three factory riders, it's just that one is in a different team. I don't feel that I'm an outsider but I do feel that it's difficult for a non-Italian to ride for an all-Italian team but don't get me wrong because it showed in Australia that the team didn't give up on me and they still give me great support. It was about who was going fastest at the time and who is competitive that got the support.

Crash.net
What's been the big change for you in the last few races?

Cal Crutchlow
I have to also look at it that I go well at those three tracks and it's about confidence on the bike and with me and those tracks. There's a lot of things like the team working better together and I believe that I got more support at the races, I'm not talking about technical support because I never got any more technical support and I've had the same bike since the start of the year.

I've had more input from the guys and we didn't change the setup much. Even at Aragon we didn't change the bike much and it was about riding the bike and I was probably a bit more willing to take some risks. At Motegi I was really disappointed, maybe even more so than Australia, because I think that I was really strong there and could have had a good result. I wouldn't have been on the podium but I think that I would have had a strong result and would have competed with the two Ducati guys.

Crash.net
Looking at last year, the biggest thing for you was to get onto a factory bike, whether that was getting more support from Yamaha or moving to Ducati, what's been the biggest things that you've noticed this year as a factory rider compared to being a satellite rider?

Cal Crutchlow
First and foremost I could have been a factory rider with Tech3 for this year and I was going to get some help from Yamaha but I wouldn't have been able to go anywhere else in the company. It's the same as the situation that Pol has now. Where can he move for the next two years? He can't move anywhere, they've signed Jorge and Vale for the next two years. It's as simple as that and if he goes and beats them for the next two years what happens? I also had that feeling when I was there and that was the reason that I've also moved from Ducati because it's the same situation here because I couldn't move within the company.

They signed Iannone and Dovi for two years and even if I went and won the championship with them next year where could I move to? I had to look at it from a career point of view, same as when I looked at moving from Tech3 last year. You don't just look at what's happening on track you look at everything, it's your career afterall. I moved to the factory team and there's been many positives to being in the factory team but there's also some negatives. The biggest difference is that you get the support from the factory but as we've seen this year it's not always the case as such.

Crash.net
What will be your relationship to HRC when you join LCR?

Cal Crutchlow
It'll be similar to the support that I had with Tech3 but I was able to do the job when I was there. You're never going to get a fully-fledged factory bike because you're not in the factory team but I'll get upgrades if they're better and if the other guys don't want them. I was just more confident that I could do a better job if I was on a different machine for next year.

That's no disrespect to my team from this year though because I do think that we could have a great year together next year but [when I made the decision] that was what I felt. I'm excited about the rest of the season with Ducati because we've had a good run with Ducati in the last few races and I know that we didn't finish in Japan or Australia but I think that on track we've had good weekends.

Crash.net
How important was it to have these good races before the end of the season? If you hadn't gone well at them and turned up to Valencia for the test and were on the pace on the Honda do you think that people would just have assumed you were cruising around the Ducati or that you just were never able to ride it properly?

Cal Crutchlow
I always knew that I could go fast so it was just a case of when I'd go fast or be competitive. We all know that you don't suddenly lose your speed or wake up one morning and not be able to go fast anymore. I always knew that I could go fast but it just wasn't there at some points of the season. I had my reasons for that and I've still got reasons for that. It's not just been the machine though because I've been riding badly for a long time of this year.

After my crash at Texas I probably came back a bit too soon with a hand injury and then missed a race and at the next race I hadn't had much race mileage but was able to finish close to Dovi. After that though I had no feeling with the bike and then it broke down in Barcelona, there was an endless list of reasons why but this shows that you can still turn things around when you need to and this is the time that I needed to do that.

Crash.net
You've complained for most of the season with issues about lean angles relative to Dovi and Iannone. Is that still the case now even when your results have picked up?

Cal Crutchlow
I still can't lean like Dovi. I'm able to go around the track at the same speed as him so this shows that I'm gaining on him in a lot other areas but we're miles off his lean angle in some corners. We still don't know why and in all honesty I don't care about it anymore. Sure to make the bike go faster around the corner you need to lean the bike and that's where we're struggling compared to those guys but I don't even bother to look at the lean angles anymore because there's completely no point.

Crash.net
Jack Miller joins you at LCR in 2015. What do you make of him moving from Moto3 to MotoGP? Do you know him well already and what do you think he can achieve?

Cal Crutchlow
I think that Jack's a good guy and I believe that he's got a lot of potential in MotoGP and hopefully he does well. I also believe that he'll need to calm down in MotoGP because he won't be able to wave his arms and do all the things that he does now in Moto3 when he comes to MotoGP. There's a few reasons that you can't, firstly you don't have the time to be pissing around and he won't be able to pull the wheelies that he's doing or running around with his knee on the floor.

I'm not saying that Moto3 is an easy championship, because it's really not, and all the championships here as competitive as each other. They're really tough championships but don't get me wrong MotoGP is the premier class. Sometimes riders wait around in Moto3 and think that they'll pass two guys on the next lap but you can't do that in MotoGP, you're full and on your limit from the start. You're at your mental and physical limit and on the bike's limit from the first corner of the race and you can't just cruise around for sure.

Crash.net
When you look back on your career you obviously spent a lot of time in Superbike paddocks in the British and the World championships. How do you feel about the world series now and the state of its popularity compared with Grand Prix racing?

Cal Crutchlow
It's disappointing to see and I don't know how. Dorna have taken the series over and they've done a great job, I believe, with the rules and the new circuits but you can't make the crowd turn up. I've no idea why people aren't going to watch but I'm sure that it'll turn back around. I really believe that someday they'll go back to Brands Hatch and Donington and they'll have the same crowds that they used to have with Foggy, Toseland and Hodgson. I grew up racing Superbikes and it was always great when I was racing there and the crowds were big. Hopefully they can come back to that. But it's not MotoGP, everyone loves MotoGP now and the crowd that we get on a Thursday is probably more than they'll get over the full weekend. It's a shame because there's great riders and they can show their talent on tv, which is the main thing.

Crash.net
And what do you think of the British championship?

Cal Crutchlow
The one championship that I'm even more impressed with at the moment is BSB because the crowds that they get there and how they run the championship is really good. I know a lot of people think that because it's a domestic series people will say that there isn't the same cost for fans to travel but the crowds that you see in BSB are great and I think that there's more new people coming to BSB, as well as the same people that were there when I raced there, watching the races. They run a good championship.

Crash.net
When you finish your career would you see yourself going back to race in BSB or when you finish in MotoGP do you see yourself walking away from racing?

Cal Crutchlow
As I said earlier I believe that there's more to life than racing and I have other things that I do and that I'd want to do. I have other businesses and other stuff that I run as well as racing. Don't get me wrong though my priority is to race a motorcycle and the other stuff is on the backburner for now but at the end of my career I would say that would be the main thing for me. I've always said that I'd have no interest to be in motorbike racing just for the sake of being in motorbike racing. I love it but there'll always be a time when everybody says that they don't love it as much or they're not as competitive or they're injured. There's always been one thing that I've always said that I'd like to do and that's helping riders. I wouldn't want to come to races week in and week out because I've been travelling for years so I'd like to help riders to do things the right way and help them develop. First and foremost though I'd like to race my bicycle!

Crash.net
Are you jealous of Ben Spies racing and having his own team?

Cal Crutchlow
No because I probably still race more than he does even though I'm racing here! I love to ride my bicycle and my dream is to have a team doing that before I'd like to be involved with motorbike racing after my career. Maybe that's something that I'll look at for the future but, typical of me, I wouldn't want a national team and I'd want to have a full team. That will take a lot of time and planning though!

Crash.net
Were you inspired by Fernando Alonso trying to buy the Euskaltel team?

Cal Crutchlow
I believe that there's something in the pipeline to do something in the future but my concentration is obviously to race in MotoGP and the other stuff is on the back burner at the minute. When I stop racing, and that could be in ten years time, and when I do I might look to do that as well as my other business things that I have going on.

Crash.net
This year must have been the toughest of your career. When you look at what motivates you continue racing how has that changed this year and has a tough season made you more aware of the importance of being able to step outside of the box and realise how much you still enjoy racing?

Cal Crutchlow
Of course, if you'd have asked me six months ago if my motivation was to stay in MotoGP for ten more years, I'd have said that it probably wasn't. But if you asked me after qualifying in Aragon I'd have said that I'd stay for another twenty years! It's just a feeling that you get and of course you have ups and downs but the goal is always to be the same and that's to be as competitive as possible. But when you're competitive it makes you want to ride for longer.

I had an interesting conversation with Casey and he said that he missed riding a motorbike but he didn't miss the racing which is the typical thing. When you stop that's what you will be like and he doesn't miss those rain drizzles just before qualifying or the race and I think that my motivation is still there to be racing in MotoGP for as long as possible. I want to competitive but I don't believe that I have anything to prove because I don't care to prove to people that I can do something.

I've got my goals to achieve but that doesn't mean that if I don't achieve them that I'll carry on racing just for the sake of it. I'm happy with what I've done and I'm happy that I've made it to a factory team in MotoGP and worked with some of the best guys in the whole world. I'm also happy that I won one world title in Supersport. There's a life after racing but I'm not willing to stop at the minute.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2014
Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2014
Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2014
Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2014
Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2014
Crutchlow, Malaysian MotoGP 2014
Techer, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Remy and Wayne GArdner, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Remy and Wayne Gardner, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Kent, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Simeon, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Simeon, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Simon, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Simon, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Raffin, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Cortese, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Folger, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016
Folger, Moto2, Aragon MotoGP 2016

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gatofuji

November 01, 2014 2:17 PM

He is either confused or confusing (probably more the latter). When he states that he (or Pol) were or are in a stalemate at Yamaha even if they would win the championship, I don't get it!!! What is the main objective of a rider? To win races and championships or get support from the factory team? I would guess he wouldn't mind to be champion even if he rode a CRT, but from his interview it's not clear anymore...

TrueFan

November 01, 2014 3:51 PM

gatofuji: He is either confused or confusing (probably more the latter). When he states that he (or Pol) were or are in a stalemate at Yamaha even if they would win the championship, I don't get it!!! What is the main objective of a rider? To win races and championships or get support from the factory team? I would guess he wouldn't mind to be champion even if he rode a CRT, but from his interview it's not clear anymore...
I got confused by that too...maybe he meant that in terms of extending his contract with Ducati, after they signed AI and AD for two years when Cal had one year to go...but he's already in a factory team, and surely, if he won the world championship - in a factory team or otherwise - the future would sort itself out! And if it didn't, who cares? You'd still be WORLD CHAMPION!



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