Christophe Bourguignon, crew chief to Cal Crutchlow, has revealed the Englishman’s winter training programme was all of his own doing, and sees LCR Honda's lead rider as “relaxed” and “confident” of his chances for the MotoGP year ahead.

32-year old Crutchlow, who has shown great promise in the first two tests of the year, covered around 7,000km on his bicycle during the winter months, a regime that led to his shedding of six and a half kilos by January's end.

Feeling physically trim coupled with an improved Honda’s 2018 RC213V, which boasts a more robust, powerful engine, led Crutchlow to state his belief at both Sepang and the Chang International Circuit that the year ahead could be his finest in MotoGP to date.

Speaking to in Thailand, Bourguignon revealed his rider had not been put under any pressure from Honda or the LCR team to shed some pounds at the tail-end of 2017, and did so out of his own volition.

“No, we did not know until we saw him,” said the Belgian, replying to whether he had expected to see a leaner Crutchlow in Malaysia. “I think he’s got it under control, the way he trains in the winter. Nobody told him what he needed to do. It’s just his own habit.

“We don’t hear from him all winter. He’s on his bike training in California. I think it’s probably a good motivation for him. He’s used this as a motivation and he’s really hard on himself to do that in the winter. He’s a well-prepared rider.”

In Thailand Crutchlow admitted he didn’t feel any great difference on the bike with his trimmer frame, and Bourguignon believes that while there are marginal gains in having a lighter rider, the mental aspect of the physical preparation is of greater significance.

“Looking at the data, we cannot see [a difference],” he said. “It’s really close. I don’t think you can say this is what made the difference, but if you calculate, you’re going to see that in 30 laps you’ll gain ‘X’ tenths over a race distance.

“It cannot be worse; only better. When you have a light rider it probably means he’s in good physical condition, good in his head and prepared for racing. He seems to be really relaxed and confident about the way he prepared this winter, and the way that he is at the moment.

“You know, we try to save kilos on the bike all the winter. We use this, this and that, because it’s a bit lighter. [We use] These [Ohlins] carbon forks because they are lighter and obviously with him also losing weight, as well as the overall package, it makes some difference, you know?

“Probably each kilo compared to the full package of the bike is a really narrow margin. It’s probably more in his head, knowing that he’s prepared.”

Asked whether he shares his rider’s assessment that 2018 could represent their most successful season since Crutchlow joined the team just over three years ago, Bourguignon was cautious about making any bold predictions.

Yet he does feel that, when considering Crutchlow’s rhythm during the two outings to date, there is “a good chance” of showings similar to those in the second half of 2016 – the Englishman’s finest season in the premier class to date.

“Of course we are here for that," said Bourguignon. "We know we all need to have a good year, but there is zero pressure. Zero pressure, and we are not preparing any differently from any other year. We’re just trying to be the same as we have been.

“If we just thought that we had to work harder because we have a better bike, it means we didn’t work enough the previous years. It’s early. I don’t want to say anything. I’m sure other people have something up their sleeves and that will come. We’ll have to continue working hard, to make sure those people that are ahead of us, can catch them.

“When you see the rhythm recently, there is a good chance to have some good races with Cal. We will take the opportunity to make that happen.”


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