3 February 2016
Sepang MotoGP Test: Crutchlow evaluates 2016-spec Honda engine
'We did our test today to give Honda the feedback and that's why they gave us the engine, so it was good for me to do a little bit of testing for them as well' - Cal Crutchlow.
Cal Crutchlow jumped at the chance to test a 2016 Honda engine on the last day of the Sepang MotoGP Test in Malaysia.
The motor isn't the latest spec being used by factory Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, but it is the same version tested by the pair in the post-race test at Valencia last November.
And Crutchlow made the most of the chance as the British star set the fourth fastest time on the third and final day, lapping in 2m 00.992s, with only Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi plus Marquez producing a quicker lap on Wednesday.
“Honestly, I know it's a cliché but at these tests we're not here to set lap times and I never pushed that hard to set a fast lap time. I put a new tyre in, sure, and went quick enough, but it was not a clean lap because had something wrong with the engine braking on the bike,” said the LCR Honda rider, who set his fastest overall lap on the 2015 bike on Tuesday in 2m 00.899s, which left him in sixth on the combined times.
“We didn't realise until we came in after, but I kept locking the bike and then we realised there was something wrong with it. I'm quite optimistic we could've gone quite a lot faster.
“It wasn't too bad and I did it with the new engine as well. I have last year's [2015 engine] and then the one that they tested in Valencia and we were very lucky that Honda gave it to us. They said, 'why not test it' and it hadn't been in the plan at all, but it was good for me because I can do back-to-back [comparisons], but Tito [Rabat] can't really do that because he doesn't have enough experience at this track,” added Crutchlow.
“I didn't think it was going to happen because I did a lap on it and then it started raining, so we were pleased to be able to get the afternoon and ride with that bike.”
Crutchlow leaves Malaysia feeling reasonably upbeat, even if he admits there are issues with the Honda that need ironing out ahead of the opening round of the 2016 championship in Qatar in March.
“We're generally happy and we've been generally happy over all of the three days. We had so many things to test and we got done what we needed to do. We were very lucky that Honda gave us the new updated engine to test,” he said.
“It's not their latest spec engine, which Dani [Pedrosa] and Marc [Marquez] are using, it's something in between, and we're pleased to be able to use it. We gave them our feedback as best as possible and there were some very good positives of the bike and some more negatives.
“We still have to push our bike very hard in order to do the lap time, which is one of the most concerning things and even to do an average lap time is difficult to do.
“We know the chassis, but we just don't know the electronics yet, which is one of the key areas where we need to work along with Marc and Dani and also Tito,” added Crutchlow.
“We just want to improve our bike and on the whole the LCR Honda team did a good job over the test because it wasn't easy, what we were faced with.
“I'm pleased enough, not ecstatic and not displeased, I'm okay and it's nice to be able to finish the first test.”
Outlining the differences between the 2016-spec engine he tested compared to last year's motor, Crutchlow said one of the big advantages was a more stable bike.
“The good thing is that we feel a little less wheelie, which is one of the priorities and we have less movement with the bike, on throttle and with deceleration of the bike,” said Crutchlow, who expects to start the opening race at the Losail International Circuit using the same spec engine as Marquez and Pedrosa.
“We will start with what they start with, I am 99.9 per cent sure of that and the plan will be to have the latest spec when it comes. We haven't even started working on the chassis or anything; it's not too bad but it's not great either,” he said.
“We did our test today to give Honda the feedback and that's why they gave us the engine, so it was good for me to do a little bit of testing for them as well and I also tested an allocation of front tyres. There were some very positive points with the new Michelin fronts, but we can only have one of them.
“We will go to Australia probably with last year's bike with last year's engine, that's our plan at the moment unless we get told otherwise. Maybe we will have this  engine but at the moment I'm happy with what I've been able to do with my team and for Honda.”
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