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Crutchlow: No-one is near Marquez
10 February 2014
Casting his eye over the Sepang MotoGP timesheets, new Ducati signing Cal Crutchlow was clear that world champion Marc Marquez holds a significant advantage over the other riders.
Honda star Marquez left the test with a best lap time just 0.194s ahead of Yamaha's Valentino Rossi, with the top four riders all breaking the two-minute barrier.
However it was Marquez's final day race simulation that revealed his true advantage.
“Everyone says how close it is at the top. Vale, Jorge, Dani - everyone is close to Marc as such [over one lap],” said Crutchlow. “But his race simulation, they are 20 seconds off. I can tell you that now.”
Even taking into account factors such as the different time of day when each rider completed their long run: “At the end of the race they would be at least ten seconds off. It puts everything in perspective. Marc is just going so well,” said Crutchlow.
At Ducati, Crutchlow's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso led the way with seventh place courtesy of a 2m 0.370s lap time. That was 0.8s slower than Marquez, but is thought to be Ducati's best ever Sepang lap.
“Dovi has proved that the lap time was possible on the bike. He only did one really good lap time but it is encouraging. I can tell you we are a long way from Marc, but so is everyone,” said Crutchlow.
The Englishman was 0.7s from Dovizioso, but the only Factory class rider to set his best time at the very end of the final day.
“If I'd done that lap at the start of the day I'd have been there or thereabouts, where Andrea was. So I'm not too concerned with the lap time. We know I can do a lap. I'm normal a good one-lap rider.
“We seem to have found some things with the bike. It seems you can push the [GP14] a little bit more, it seems the limit is a lot more than the GP13. We still have issues with grip, wheelie, vibrations, but we can't fix them here. It needs new parts and time.”
Summing up, Crutchlow said: “Overall I am happy. We haven't had three fantastic days, but we've had three improving days. Which is encouraging.”
Ducati are expected to make a decision on whether to stay in the Factory class or switch to Open by the next Sepang test at the end of this month.
“I've haven't been told anything other than that I'm riding a Ducati in MotoGP,” said Crutchlow. “I'll follow whichever way they want to go, because I believe they will make the best decision.”
Regardless of the Factory or Open class, Ducati's biggest issue is simply the time needed for new Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna to implement the necessary changes to get the manufacturer back on terms with Honda and Yamaha.
“Ducati will do what they can [for the second test] but time is the limiting factor. It has been from the last race until now. Gigi only walked in the garage in November and what he has done from then to now is a good step.
“But the season is starting. Gigi and the team will be with us at every race. That's 30 weeks away from home and it's difficult to do anything [radical].”
The second Sepang test takes place from February 26-28, with the new season starting in Qatar in late March
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