While in arguably the form of his career, Cal Crutchlow has refused to get carried away, admitting that a 2017 title challenge would be “a big ask”, but feels his recent showings demonstrate he is worthy of receiving more factory support.
Crutchlow eased to his second MotoGP win in six races at Phillip Island, firstly through applying pressure to early leader Marc Marquez, before holding off a Valentino Rossi push with the minimum of fuss to come home four seconds clear.
The result was a continuation of Crutchlow's excellent form in the second half of 2016, boosted by a HRC new chassis from the Brno test and continual advancements with electronics, meaning that since the German Grand Prix in July, only Marquez has scored more points than the Englishman.
“At the moment, and with things the way we are and with what we get from Honda, I don't know if I can be a title contender,” said the 30-year old, now sixth overall in the world championship, and comfortably the best-placed 'Satellite' rider.
“It would be a big ask to be a title contender next year, but that doesn't stop me from trying.
“If I keep getting these good results then we can be, and while the results I'm getting at the minute are good enough for the bike we have, maybe one day I want to target the title. The problem is, these guys around me are fast – so it was nice to get one over on them.
“We can definitely improve, and even in the race on Sunday I could have improved in some areas. But I was in the rhythm and couldn't be arsed to try. I was riding comfortably, but I could have tried some things with the throttle or with the brake.
“But it's easier to try those things when you're in a battle, and out at the front on my own I didn't really want to push any buttons or do anything a little different.
“I still think I can improve as a rider – there are things that I could do better. Off the track, there are not many things I could improve – sure, maybe I could be a little more diplomatic sometimes, but for the things I do to prepare for a race, there's no one who puts in as much as me and my family.”
At Assen in June Crutchlow announced that he would stay with the LCR Honda squad for a third season in 2017.
While acknowledging that receiving a bike equal to the Repsol Honda squad throughout the year will be very unlikely, the Englishman feels that recent performances show his ability to consistently mix with the best the class has to offer.
“A factory bike isn't going to happen, and I'm happy with my team, but maybe I deserve more support from my factory. When I rode for Yamaha, I had good support from the factory and got offered a contract to stay again. We get good support, but I think they should be helping me more and LCR as a team more.
“It's disappointing to win a race and not see the boss at the press conference, because if you were in another factory they would be [here]. I know there are people there internally that really help me, and that there are people internally that don't like them for doing it.
“But that's racing, and it's a cutthroat business – and at the end of the day, it is a business. It's a sport and a business, but unfortunately they see it as just a business, a lot of them – and we have better emotion than them when we do win.”