18 March 2016
MotoGP Qatar: Crutchlow chasing cure for engine-braking woes
"I crashed because it felt like the throttle was still open” - Cal Crutchlow.
Cal Crutchlow's hopes of a competitive Qatar MotoGP depend on finding - or receiving - solutions to vibration and engine-braking issues with his LCR Honda.
Able to pull out a quick lap throughout pre-season testing, the Englishman has been left baffled by the new-found difficulties with his RC213V.
Competing at the same circuit where he set the seventh fastest lap time at the test, less than 0.2s from factory Honda star Marc Marquez, Crutchlow could only manage 15th after Friday's third practice session for the season-opener.
Labelling the day a 'disaster', Crutchlow counted his fall in FP2 as 'probably the best thing that happened tonight'
“No feeling with the front of the bike. Can't enter the corner, we have problems with the engine brake the same as yesterday. I was positive that we would be able to fix the problems, but we didn't.
“There's something completely strange with it. One corner's perfect, the next corner's a disaster, and then the next lap the corner that was perfect is a disaster, and so on. You have no idea what's going on with it.
“I crashed because it felt like the throttle was still open. I had the brake on, and I thought at one point, I was going to make the corner, and then suddenly, you feel that you're not going to make the corner, for no reason. And it seems to me that it's something to do with the engine brake.
“I also have a lot of vibration from the bike with both the tyres for some reason. So braking early and trying to carry the corner speed is impossible, which is what you need to do with the Michelins.
“We have some sort of problem at the moment, but we have no idea what it is.”
Marquez had also been hampered by inconsistent engine-braking yesterday, but was back on form with the third best lap time on Friday.
“We know the factory team changed something, that we're not able to change, and it seems that they are going better,” Crutchlow said. “Dani [Pedrosa] never had a problem, with what me and Marc had a problem with, and now Marc's changed something and he's in a lot better shape.”
While Crutchlow wouldn't say what that change was, Marquez later said he had solved his issues by changing “an electronics thing... coming back to exactly the same that we had in the test”.
“They have to sort their own things out first,” Crutchlow continued. “Honestly, I haven't investigated to give a positive answer [about the cause], but I know they changed something on the bike that we can't change. That's sure.
“We race motorcycles, and one's a factory team and one's not. We're in a situation in a moment where we need to look for tomorrow, but in the test, I went faster than I did today. I also did a run where the whole run was faster than today, and they were really easy lap times.
“We need to fix it for the race, because it's going to be a long race with something not working particularly well. Our bike in acceleration is really weak as well. Especially from the last corner.
“There's nothing we can do except give Honda the information, and hope they can help us as and when.
“When I did my longer run in the test, the only thing I complained about was the engine braking. And it seems that Dani never had a problem particularly in the test. Marc didn't, but there was a reason why he didn't. And then now we turn up here, we have a problem.
“But I told them after the last test we have a problem with the engine brake. And now we're in the situation where we have the problem with the engine brake. At the moment, we can't fix it. It's not just something we can fix. Hopefully we can look for something tomorrow, and everything we have tried hasn't worked.
“We'll look through the stuff tonight, but it's clear that Dani and Marc have found something from the test, and also from yesterday, and we haven't.”
Crutchlow's free practice ranking means he will go up against the likes of Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith in pursuit of one of the two transfer places in Qualifying 1.
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