After qualifying tenth on the grid for Sunday's Qatar season-opener, LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow joked that he wouldn't be eating until the race.
The Englishman was putting a brave face on a significant lack of straight-line performance, which he fears will be a major handicap in the 22-lap Grand Prix.
“Our main problem at the moment is the speed. Straight line speed on acceleration, we're just going to get murdered. You cannot imagine it,” Crutchlow said in the Losail paddock. “At the end of the straight, the bike's not too bad. It's acceleration in third, fourth and fifth gear.
“I'm not going to eat from now until after the race tomorrow, because I just need to be as aerodynamic as possible, and as light as possible, and I'm already four kilos less than last year. I shaved the beard today even, to take a little bit off, anything!
“I'm as light as I've been in probably ten years, and last year's bike was good on acceleration, and we had horsepower, so I thought that if I lose these three or four kilos I needed to lose, I'm going to be a rocket,”
Crutchlow set a 334km/h top speed best in qualifying, 16km/h slower than Ducati's Andrea Iannone. Acceleration data is not publically available, but the final sector of the lap (including the run out of the final turn to the finish) is a good indicator.
The #35 was slowest of the twelve Qualifying 2 competitors through that section, with Marc Marquez the best of the Hondas in seventh.
“Dani's small, and he's one of the last in the last sector, ahead of me, and I'm last in the last sector, and Marc's just in front of Dani,” Crutchlow said. “There's also three corners in the last sector, and we're obviously pushing in those three corners. At the end of the day, we know it's straight line speed, because I've also come out of the last corner behind a few people, and just...”
Quizzed on whether Honda's introduction of a counter-rotating crankshaft - as thought to be used by Ducati, Yamaha and Aprilia - is hurting the straight-line performance, the 30-year-old smiled:
“I didn't know I had a reverse crank engine. So I can't say anything about it... We just have no acceleration. I don't know why. And we're near enough full power, so it's not as if we can suddenly change somethin g and we get it, but it's also rideability. Horsepower is horsepower, and over 320 km/h, I think it's 3 horsepower for every km/h, so you can imagine how much some bikes are putting out and some aren't.
“Honda is working. We knew this race was going to be difficult, all we can do is give them the information, every time, as I've always said, I'm really pleased with the support I get from them. They do help a lot, and they do look at a lot. Maybe not immediately, because we're not the priority, but in the end, we do get help. Tonight they will take a look. But it's not just me, they're helping Dani, Marc, Jack, Tito.”
In terms of solving the ongoing engine-braking issues for the satellite RC213V riders, Crutchlow added:
“Parts more than anything, and we haven't got it, and that's it. We can't change anything here. We know that our engine brake is a little bit up and down, we have to compensate with riding at the moment. We have to wait, be patient, do what we can do.”