Cal Crutchlow has said that he 'isn't scared' of MotoGP's upcoming switch to Michelin rubber but is hopeful the new front tyre won't negate the current RC213V's advantage.
While riders are still contractually prohibited from speaking on the topic of tyres, Crutchlow feels he has been content with his speed on the French rubber at the tests through 2015.
However, as Crutchlow feels the front end stability of the current Honda is the bike's greatest strength, he is hopeful the 2016 spec front Michelin tyre will provide a similar feel.
Commenting on the direction Honda is taking for 2016, Crutchlow began, “In one way we are all saying the same thing. We are also saying different things. It's quite a strange thing. Marc wants one thing. Dani another, I want another. I have the experience of the Ducati and the Yamaha and I know where they are stronger than the Honda. But, I also know where the Honda is stronger than them. It's nice that Honda listens to me.
“I think the Ducati electronically is so fantastic. Hopefully that will be cut a little next year. We know the Yamaha's chassis is their big thing. We're working in all areas. Around Le Mans we were already struggling as a team and a manufacturer. I don't think one of us has high-sided this year.
“If you count the crashes they are all with the front. That's because the front is so good we then have to push even more as we're struggling in other areas. We have to push it past the limit. It's normally so strong but you can only go so far.”
While admitting too much can't be read into early impressions as the current bikes are not set-up for the tyres' specific strengths, the Englishman said the grip afforded by the Michelin front could be a concern.
“The front of our bike is so strong we'll lose our advantage. If the front tyre isn't good then we're going to lose our advantage. Everybody is saying rear grip is going to help the Honda more. Ok, if you have ten percent more rear grip Yamaha and Ducati have ten percent. We need to make sure we still gain as a manufacturer, not just with the tyre.
“There are a lot of variables. Yamaha are already saying, 'We're in trouble for next year.' The Tech 3 team is saying we are already on the back foot. We've done one test. Nobody altered their bike. Some guys crashed and they said, 'It's the Michelin tyre.' It's not the tyre. You have to adapt the bike, your style towards a new product. You have to change yourself and the setting. You can't ride out of pit lane after a Bridgestone for three years and think it will be the same.
“Sure there has been some difficult moments but the last test I was quite impressed. I did twenty laps in Malaysia and said I wasn't going to do any more. Some guys crashed and I didn't need to test more. Then in Aragon I was quite pleased. We went fast. I think a lot faster than quite a few of the other guys. A few of the other guys are scared of the Michelin. I'm not.
“Ducati are the only people that know what they're doing because they've had Pirro doing 5,000 laps with the Michelin. I expect them to be really strong. But everyone is going to change their bikes for next year. I hope we're able to pass like we can on Bridgestones.”
Looking ahead to the final round of 2015, Crutchlow believes his fortunes depend on whether he experiences the dreaded 'floating' feeling at the rear of his machine around the tight and twisty Valencia track.
“We've always said one track is a Honda track, the other a Yamaha. It's been difficult for Honda at every track. I would hope that these sort of stop and go corners like turn two, seven and eight, that we're able to turn the bike quite well and brake quite deep and get out of the corner. Also the last corner.
“It just depends on how our rear floating [feeling] is. Locking of the bike in the middle of the corner. Controlling this is really, really difficult with our bike this year. If we can make sure that's under control I think we have a good chance of having a strong result. If not then I think it could be a long weekend. We've seen Dani and Marc here being really strong before but that was on a different package to what we're on. I believe we can make a good result.”