Cal Crutchlow has vowed to disprove his critics as he graduates to the World Superbike Championship (WSBK) in 2010, explaining that he will not be putting himself under any undue pressure to perform in his first season and promising to punch above his weight in taking the fight to riders who on the face of it he should have no chance of beating.
Crutchlow will join the WSBK grid with the Yamaha works outfit off the back of a dominant campaign in the World Supersport Championship (WSS) – and on paper at least, it is a daunting prospect. Not only will he have double world champion James Toseland as a team-mate, but he will also be with the same team that swept to title glory in 2009 with Ben Spies.
Throw into the mix rivals of the calibre of former MotoGP runner-up Max Biaggi, two-time WSBK Champion Troy Corser, ex team-mate Leon Haslam, reigning British Superbike Champion Leon Camier, runaway 2008 BSB Champion Shane Byrne, eternal bridesmaid Noriyuki Haga and fellow British front-runners Jonny Rea and Tom Sykes, and merely finishing inside the top ten begins to look like something of an achievement in itself.
From speaking to the 24-year-old, though, it swiftly becomes apparent that running around in the midfield as he finds his feet is far from Crutchlow's intention. Having triumphed five times and set a staggering ten pole positions from 14 attempts in WSS in 2009, nobody is in any doubt at all as regards his raw speed – and the Coventry-born ace makes clear that he plans to be battling right up at the sharp end from the word 'go' in his new surroundings too.
“It's going to be a big challenge, for definite,” he acknowledged, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio
, “but I'm looking forward to it. Challenges are what I enjoy and why I work hard off the track, and I come to the track normally with a lot of determination and a lot more aggression than some of the other riders. Challenges are what I'm up for.
“I took the risk to come into Supersport this year and took to that challenge quite well, after not knowing half of the circuits – and hopefully if we can do that again next year, it will be rewarding. I'm under no illusions as to how hard it's going to be, and I'm not sitting here saying I'm going to beat the world – like I didn't [say that] this year – but if we can do a good job then I'll be very pleased.
“It's all about enjoying it – which I am doing – and working hard, because you want to keep going up. Making the step to Superbikes is the right move, and hopefully we can do what Ben [Spies] and Valentino [Rossi] have done and try to win some of those championships as well. I'm taking one step at a time, and am just going to go in there with an open mind and look forward to it.
“I've got my own goals, the same as I did this year, but I don't let anybody know what they are. I can tell you now that I want to be the first Yamaha home, but I also want to do a good job. Everybody wants to win the races – that's why we all sit there on the grid – so anybody who says they don't is talking rubbish, or else they wouldn't be there.
“The calibre in WSBK is phenomenal, and the reality is that there are six or seven guys in there that should be beating me – should
being the key word. I'm just going to go out there and do my job. I know what my job is, and I know what I have to do to please people. I'm going to go out there and do it for myself. I've worked hard this year, and I'm going to carry on working hard next year. I've got the determination to do it, I'm looking forward to doing it – and to be honest I can't wait to get on the bike again!”