20 February 2016
MotoGP: Third fastest Crutchlow plays down testing speed
Cal Crutchlow plays down his third fastest time at Phillip Island MotoGP test, admits concerns over Michelin front tyre after crash at turn four.
Cal Crutchlow played down his feats at the second MotoGP test in Phillip Island at which he set the third fastest time and instead looked ahead to testing Honda's latest 2016 engine, which he hopes will come sooner rather than later.
“I never came here to set the world alight and we didn't” was Crutchlow's honest assessment of the three days, somewhat neglecting his final time on Friday, a 1m 29.348s lap that was just two tenths slower than fastest man Maverick Viñales.
The Englishman's fast one lap speed was tempered first of all by consistency in longer runs, which he felt were futile while testing a package that he won't race in Qatar. Michelin's front tyres were also a concern on a day when 13 riders suffered front-end falls.
Crutchlow was one of them, dusting himself off after his front tyre unexpectedly tucked when braking for the turn four hairpin on Friday afternoon. “It shouldn't have locked the way it did but that's the way it is,” said the 29-year old.
“[We had] Nothing really to test,” continued Crutchlow. “We're doing our normal thing. We had only the 2015 bike completely, engine and everything, here. I know the other Honda riders had something different. We never did unfortunately. It's not really a problem. We worked a lot on the electronics but never really gained anything.
“We think the electronics is working better with the newer engine [that Repsol Honda riders used] which is a positive thing, so hopefully it works better when we get it. Overall I'm happy enough. I never came here to set the world alight and we didn't. I didn't push too much and take any unnecessary risks.
“Unfortunately I crashed today along with probably 15 other crashers. It seems that it's the same old same old at Phillip Island. Everyone crashes in a straight line with not a cold front tyre but when the track temperature starts to come down in turn four or ten…it was strange. But it's also strange that in this area the surface is really shiny. In the wet it's like ice. Everywhere else it's not too bad. We didn't make a mistake and we crashed. I didn't even know why. The same as when I lost 200 grand in one day with Ducati. Today I didn't feel to bad about it. Then I did!
“We got away from here happy enough. We got some miles under our belt albeit not on the new bike. Obviously it gives us something to look forward to in Qatar.”
The LCR Honda man, who was testing his 2015 package and engine with new electronics despite having the first spec '16 engine available to try, wasn't keen to lay excessive blame on Michelin but admitted “everyone is a little worried” by the performance of the front tyre.
“In the moment I think everyone is still a little bit worried by this. We have not so bad rear grip and we're all closing the front. There are so many people having problems. . As soon as you take the weight off and really push the front tyre. The problem is if you push it really hard you have a moment. If you don't push enough you have a moment. You have to find the middle.”
When Crutchlow was asked what area of electronic set-up he needed to work on in the third and final preseason test at Qatar, he quipped, “Everything! [From] The pit limiter, when you turn the pit limiter off …”
With Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki riders complaining less of the electronics in Phillip Island than the HRC riders Crutchlow feels the parameters of the system in which HRC riders are working need further refining.
“We need to refine it. As Honda, as a manufacturer, as a team we need to refine the electronics because we don't really have the right setting. We're not really in the right parameters I don't think. We're not far away. We're just outside that window.
“Ducati are [inside the parameter] because they were using it before. Yamaha seemed to make a step in the last test and this. Suzuki are there too. We need to catch up a little. I expect us to catch up a little more in Qatar. We did what we could with what we had.”
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