20 April 2015
MotoGP Argentina: Crutchlow: F1 tactics for first Honda podium
"There was quite a lot of 'Formula One' today. I had a target time that I wanted to hit" - Cal Crutchlow.
Cal Crutchlow celebrated a MotoGP podium in only his third race for the LCR Honda team.
The Englishman snatched a rostrum by passing Factory Ducati replacement Andrea Iannone at the final corner of Sunday's race in Argentina, the pair having been elevated a position when Marc Marquez crashed out on the penultimate lap.
Afterwards Crutchlow, who joined fellow Marquez in choosing the softer of their rear tyre options, revealed that there had been a plan in place for the Honda riders and that he had ridden a disciplined 'F1-style' race with a target lap time.
“We decided to go with the softer tyre option and the plan was always to let Marc go at the start and then try and catch him back up at the end. That was the plan that we had with the team and with Honda,” revealed Crutchlow, who held second place behind Marquez from laps 2-7.
“But Marc went way too hard at the start, in my opinion, and he burnt the tyre. The plan was for me to do a certain lap time. There was quite a lot of 'Formula One' today. I had a target time that I wanted to hit at the start of the race and it was around '39.9-'40.0. I thought anyone going faster than that will wreck the tyre.
“Marc got a bit of a gap up front, but on my last lap I did a '39.4. My fastest lap of the race. So it definitely came back to me. I could have done a '39.0 at the start of the race easily. I probably could have done five of them in a row. But I would have been doing '41s at the end of the race instead of a '39.4. It was quite tactical in terms of the tyres.
“Valentino and Yamaha were stronger all weekend with the extra-hard tyre. We knew that to be competitive with them we had to use the softer tyre because corner entry is vital for us. If we lose that grip we really struggle and the extra-hard never had the grip - with our bike - from the start.
“We did the best job we could. I was a little bit disappointed with the middle of the race because I had some moments with the front a few times and lost time to Valentino and Dovi, but I knew at the end I would come strong. Which I did.
“Unfortunately Marc crashed and he never finished the race. So we benefitted from that and took the podium, but at the end of the day we did a good job all weekend. So I'm pleased for the CWM LCR Honda team. It's great to get their first podium in a few years. They've done a good job to get us to the front and Honda have given us great support as well.”
Crutchlow confirmed that the chassis upgrade he received last weekend played a part in his success.
“We got the upgrade of the bike in Texas to help us be closer to the factory guys. It really suits my riding style and benefits me. I just never took advantage in Austin because we had a problem. But we definitely made it pay well this weekend.”
Crutchlow, seventh in both previous races, crossed the line just 0.054s ahead of Iannone and 2.5s from the Italian's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.
“We fought hard all race long. Ducati did a fantastic job with Dovi riding very well and also Iannone. Iannone was difficult because he likes to battle. I enjoyed it thoroughly and they have done a great job this season to make their bike competitive at the front.”
Meanwhile, race winner Valentino Rossi crossed the line 8.3s clear of Crutchlow, who admitted: “No-one had the pace of Valentino. I knew all weekend, looking at the lap chart, he was able to have something after 15 or 16 laps of the race.
“But Valentino is Valentino. He's incredible. Look at the age, the years and he's still got that drive and want to fight. He did it in Qatar as well when he bridged the gap. He's strong. No doubt about that. He's looking so strong for the title.
“We have a great championship at the moment. The riders are riding at their best level ever I feel. So to be up there is good and credit to the team.”
Crutchlow has now claimed MotoGP podiums on Yamaha, Ducati and Honda machinery. His latest rostrum puts him sixth and the top satellite rider in the world championship, just two points from reigning champion Marquez.
Completing a dream day for the LCR team was a twelfth place finish, as the top Open rider, for rookie Jack Miller.
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