25 March 2015
Qatar MotoGP: 'I’m always sceptical at Qatar' - Crutchlow
“I'm always sceptical at Qatar. I think there is too much hype and then things settle down and you see what's going on”
Cal Crutchlow believes it'll take a few races to see the true shape of the 2015 MotoGP championship and his own potential at LCR Honda.
The Englishman has moved from Yamaha to Ducati and now Honda in as many seasons.
"I've adapted quite well to the bike," he said. "It's been difficult, three bikes in three seasons. But I'm focused, the team is focused. I've been enjoying riding again, I enjoyed the two tests at Sepang which I don't usually enjoy so much."
After a low-key eleventh at the opening Sepang test, Crutchlow rocketed to third in the second outing. He was again the top satellite rider in the rain-shortened Qatar test, when he was seventh but only 0.7s from the top.
“We know what specification motorcycle we have at Honda and it's a good one. That's what we've got and I'm very happy with that. We'll ride it as fast as possible and try our best,” said Crutchlow at Losail on Wednesday evening.
Compared with last year's Ducati “you can definitely take more risks [with the Honda] and go on the attack. But I think the first few races will be difficult. But after that I think we will be able to challenge a lot more than we have done in previous years.”
Pressed on why he expects the opening races to be difficult, Crutchlow replied: “Just understanding the bike in a race situation because it's very difficult to follow other riders [when you are] on the Honda. I think a lot of Honda riders and teams have found that in previous years.
“To follow another bike is really difficult, but if you are on your own you can be a lot more competitive. So the thing to do is lead the race, but that obviously isn't easy! It's about understanding the bike.”
With the top 14 riders covered by less than one-second at the end of Qatar testing, Crutchlow believes this weekend will be closely fought and tough to call.
“Honestly a lot of the riders should be happy to come out of here with a top ten because it's that close. I've also said if you finish 15th but have a great race then you've got to be happy enough. But we've got some decent aims and there's no reason why we can't fulfil our own goals as a team at the first weekend.
“I don't really look at this race as a massive indicator though. Sure there's going to be five-six-seven guys at the front who will be at the front all year. But the guy who wins here won't necessarily win the championship.
“Maybe Ducati will win the race here, but the championship? I'm always sceptical at Qatar. I think there is too much hype and then things settle down and you see what's going on.”
Ducati's new GP15, the machine Crutchlow effectively gave up by signing for LCR, was fastest in the hands of his former team-mate Andrea Dovizioso at the final test. Crutchlow insists his opinion on the GP15 hasn't changed:
“Same as I thought last year when I saw the design for it and how it was going to be made. It's special. There's no doubt about that. Fast in a straight line that's for sure. With the combination of two fast riders, being fast in a straight line and turning a lot better I think we - a lot of guys - could be in trouble.”
“I took my decision and I have no regrets. I wish them well,” he added.
Looking ahead one of Crutchlow first priorities during Thursday's opening practice will be to fix the inconsistent braking issues he has suffered since Sepang.
“We had them in the Qatar test as well. We'll be looking to try and fix that. I had them a lot on the second day here and it was one of the reasons I crashed. We lost a lot of time on that second day here,” said Crutchlow.
Crutchlow had no comment regarding reports that the team's title sponsor CWM is under police investigation for alleged financial irregularities, including fraud and money laundering.
“CWM believe that they have been the victim of an orchestrated campaign initiated by individuals motivated by personal animosity,” declared a company statement.
Crutchlow, who finished sixth on his Ducati debut at Qatar last season, was the first to be asked to sum up his bike in one word during the pre-event press conference.
"White" he replied.
Dovizioso said "Fast", Rossi "Precise", Márquez "[A] Bull", Lorenzo "Smooth" and Aleix Espargaro "Small."
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