Cal Crutchlow admitted finishing was the top priority on Sunday at Mugello in a MotoGP race that was severely hampered by front brake issues.
Like Repsol Honda team-mates Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, the Englishman was running Brembo's front 320 discs in the 23-lap race, a change from the 340s that he normally uses, in a bid to understand a spate of front end crashes that have hampered his year.
Yet after several laps Crutchlow felt them overheating, limiting the amount of pressure he could apply to the brake, and thus the amount he could push in the remaining 20 laps.
“It wasn't too bad in the end,” said the 30-year old, who finished the race in eleventh. “I felt after two or three laps I had some sort of issue. I had a front brake problem. You can see from the data in the last ten laps of the race I was braking more in the rain on Friday morning than I was with the front brake at the end of the race into about five corners.
“It was our choice also because we've run the 320 discs this weekend. It's the first time in a long time I've run them. I ran them in one race last year. Here is a notorious 340 track. They got way too hot after three laps and the thing was done. So I had to adjust the lever for one lap and then it was again so far out. They were cooked and not working.
“I used the rear brake a lot more than the front to stop the bike. The last ten laps I was hardly pressing the brake lever but we chose this.”
Crutchlow admitted finishing and gathering as much data as possible was a major target after a management meeting over the weekend. Taking positives from the weekend, he was relieved to complete the race without suffering any near moments.
“I'm happy to finish. No excuses, I felt eleventh. I got boxed out at the start and it was really difficult to pass with the speed of the bike but I finished. I had some – I wouldn't say pressure to finish – but I knew I had to finish basically from a management meeting [that was] not necessarily from my team either.
We needed information and to get the race finish. The good thing is I didn't have one moment in the race and didn't feel on the limit at all. I also didn't push so much or so well. I couldn't. I had this problem that meant I could do one lap fast and one lap not.”
As he was not placed in a group and couldn't benefit from slipstream, Crutchlow noted that he was losing a considerable amount of time along Mugello's main straight.
While only able to say that the factory machines are using “something different” to his LCR machine, Crutchlow is hopeful of receiving those upgrades soon.
“I never had the slipstream which made life difficult. We were losing 0.3s to Marc and Dani in the straight. When they were in the slipstream we were losing half a second. We'll keep discussing with Honda how to improve this. Marc got beat today because his bike was slow.
“It seems that maybe they're able to use something different to us. That will come. Honda are giving me good support. Hopefully that will filter down at some point.”