Part one of an exclusive interview with MotoGP star Cal Crutchlow, in which the Englishman talks to about his move to the Factory Ducati team for 2014.

Crutchlow finished fifth and the leading satellite rider in this year's world championship, claiming four podiums and two pole positions during his final season with Monster Yamaha Tech 3.

The Englishman then rode the Ducati Desmosedici for the first time in testing at Valencia earlier this month.

Ducati has not won a race since Casey Stoner departed at the end of 2010, but Crutchlow's arrival coincides with the appointment of former Aprilia racing boss Gigi Dall'Igna as the new general manager of Ducati Corse.

Crutchlow was a close match for team-mate Andrea Dovizioso at the Valencia test, but they were both 1.5s behind Honda's world champion Marc Marquez.

In part two, Crutchlow answers questions on his time at Tech 3 Yamaha, the performances of Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, the future of MotoGP and more...
Cal, you made your Ducati debut at the Valencia test. What was your approach to the test, how did you find the bike and was it what you expected?

Cal Crutchlow:
First and foremost the test was to get used to the team. Obviously I've never ridden a Ducati before, so it was good just to ride the Ducati. I did say that I didn't want to test what they previously had this year, because we could see that wasn't right. But I don't think they were in a position to give me anything else at this stage.

At the end of the day I got to work with the team for three days. The team is fantastic. There is a wealth of knowledge in there. And I wanted to start building a team around me that has a good friendly atmosphere as well as a working relationship. I think that's what those guys need. They need new motivation from me - from the whole situation of me coming in and trying my best for them.

Obviously they've had Nicky [Hayden] for a long time and on the other side of the garage they've chopped and changed riders a little bit and still it doesn't seem to have worked in the last couple of years. As I think Claudio Domenicali [Ducati CEO] saw in me, I'll come in and give my all. And that's what the team need. They need a rider that'll ride it with square wheels. Try their best on it.

First impressions of the bike - I didn't expect anything more or less. It definitely wasn't as fast as the other manufacturers, but that was clear from the past few years. I gave precise feedback - there are some positives to the bike but also a lot of negatives that need putting right.
In recent years it seems that Ducati riders get the bike to a certain point but then it almost seems to hit a performance ceiling, no matter what's changed. How did the bike react to set-up changes?

Cal Crutchlow:
The problem is that it doesn't react to set-up changes. It does the same thing. We seemed to come across something that could be worth looking at on a new bike that will probably be built next year. But even on that bike you were limited - we went 'up and down, left and right' with the settings and the lap time was always the same. And always the same with the other Ducati guys.

On the positive side I was able to be consistently competitive with Andrea [Dovizioso] already, who I know is fast and it was my first time on the bike. Andrea and I know how fast each of us are. He was fourth in the championship last year and this year I was fifth with arguably more riders at the front. I know he can be a podium competitor and he knows I can.
What was it like being back with Andrea after a year?

Cal Crutchlow:
That's also a positive because we showed Ducati we were willing to work hard and work together. Even during my debrief on the last day, Andrea was in on it and everything that he said I could completely back up and vice versa. And that's good. Especially for Gigi [Dall'Igna, new Ducati Corse general manager] - not knowing the bike or knowing either of us as riders before.

We were saying the same thing and you could clearly see from the data there were certain issues and areas where there were problems. That clear feedback gives them something to work off and gives me and Andrea confidence that they've got a good base to take from the test.
Is it the understeer that you found to be the main issue?

Cal Crutchlow:
It's funny to hear people's comments inside and outside the paddock. There are a number of reasons why it doesn't turn. What we are saying to Ducati is that it's not just one thing but a number of things. But Gigi's fully aware of that and so are the team.

They've had no time to be able to make a new bike. A lot of management changes and things have been going on within Ducati and Audi, but I think the changes have all led to this stage where they are now under the clear management of someone [Dall'Igna] who can bring this project back to the front.

Yes, Ducati has a big job to do but I think Gigi is the guy to do it. All I can do is give good feedback, ride as fast as possible and try my best. There's no doubt that I'll be doing that. I think the team deserves a good shot and I want to do the best job I can for them.

We're trying to build a new Ducati, not build a copy of another manufacturer's motorcycle. We want to make the Ducati a very good bike in itself, not replicate anything. But giving them the information about how the Ducati felt relative to the other bike [Yamaha] was crucial.
What has Gigi told you and what do you expect in terms of the bike you will have at the first 2014 test at Sepang in February? Will it have some modifications with the bigger changes arriving later in year?

Cal Crutchlow:
Yeah I think there will be some modifications but I don't expect the bike to be completely different at the first Sepang test, because we are only a month and a half away before the crates need to be shipped. You can't just build a bike overnight and start from scratch. Gigi has only just walked in.

I think we'll be trying to make a bike for the first part of the year and then maybe there will be a development team working on something else. I've not been assured of that, but that's got to be the general plan. Gigi is a very clever guy and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.

I'm excited to start working with Gigi and the team and a crucial part of my information to them is what I rode previously [at Tech 3]. I know Andrea obviously rode the Yamaha as well, and Honda before that, but now Ducati have a clear management structure to get that information to the correct people, which maybe wasn't happening before.

I know Andrea is pleased about Gigi coming in as well. So there's reason to be excited for the future. Were still a long way off the pace at the moment but I never expected anything different.
Talking of expectations, what do you expect for next year? Are you going in completely open minded with the performance of the other Ducati riders as a marker, or are you already thinking about specific results?

Cal Crutchlow:
I'm a motorbike racer, so of course I think about results. But for sure when I go to the first race, as with anything, your aim is to be as fast and competitive as possible. In my own head I have to believe we'll win by ten seconds, but the reality is it's not going to be easy to do that!
The chance to be a factory rider for the first time in MotoGP and have all of that focus behind you, was that the main draw for you in moving to Ducati?

Cal Crutchlow:
Yeah. If you look over recent history in MotoGP, no rider has won a MotoGP Championship without a factory bike. Or even won a race. Toni Elias was the last satellite rider to win a race and that was back in 2006.

In Yamaha I was not going to be guaranteed a factory bike. I was not really getting promoted in that company at all. The way I explain it to people is, imagine doing their day job, doing better and better at it every year, but never being able to move up. And then someone new moves straight in with a better contract than you.

How would they feel? And at the same time you've got the chance to go to somewhere else and be one of the top guys. Why wouldn't you go?

It's a new challenge for me. I could ride around at Tech 3 and finish in the same position all the time. But why not try something different, with a whole manufacturer fully behind you and try and help them get to the front?

People will, for sure, say that I went to Ducati for the money. I'm not stupid. If you see how many comments there are on - there are some people who, I feel, just seem to be jealous that I'm trying to make a better life for myself. That's a shame.

But trust me, I never went there for the money. I went because I want to prove people wrong and try my best for Ducati as a manufacturer. I've always wanted to ride for Ducati. And as Herve told you in his interview recently, when we sat down and told each other what was going on for next year, the advice was to go.

I couldn't grow within Yamaha anymore. I'm not angry about anything. Tech 3 are a very good team and Yamaha gave me a very good bike for three years. But it was time for a change and I'm very happy with the choice I've made.
On paper, winning a race will be harder in the short term at Ducati...

Cal Crutchlow:
Winning is the main reward. Of course. But there would be nothing better, nothing better, than winning with Ducati. Because you are not expected to win. And in the same way, a good result at Ducati will be better than the same result at Tech 3, because I was expected to do it at Tech 3.

Ducati are expecting good results from me of course, that's why they signed me, but there are also people saying I can't do it. When we get results, it will be a lot more satisfying for me to have done it with Ducati rather than Tech 3 again.

That was part of the whole challenge of going to Ducati. To bring them back to the front will be a massive accomplishment for me if we can do it. That's what I want to achieve with them. It's been a long time since they were at the front and competitive week in, week out.

As I've said, I don't expect it to be at the first race. But if you start to get faster and faster, and then do make that jump to the first group, you seem to stay there. When I finally made the jump with Tech 3, I stayed there. I was normally ahead of the middle group of riders, even on days when I was riding in no-man's land.

Hopefully that's what happens at Ducati.

CLICK HERE to read part two of the interview...



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