Crash.net:
Hi Cal, how has your winter been? Did you manage to avoid travelling too much?

Cal Crutchlow:
After Valencia I got back home and didn't travel for two months! Normally as you know I spend the winter in California but this time I thought 'no, I'm staying on the Isle of Man'. It's been a rough winter with all the wind and rain, but I enjoyed being there.

Crash.net:
Looking to Sepang, do you know what your package will be for the test? Will you have your 2016 race bike?

Cal Crutchlow:
It's obviously a little bit disappointing but I'll be starting at least the first two tests on last year's bike. Completely last year's bike. But that's the way it is and I have to accept it. I know Honda are working very hard at the factory to make a package that will be competitive at the front of MotoGP. It's down to Honda to make the bike for Dani and Marc first and foremost, and then we'll take the benefit of that as and when.

But I don't think [using the old bike] is necessarily a bad thing. I'm normally quite rusty in the first test anyway. I hardly ride a motorcycle during the winter. I spend the time at home, I cycle and switch off from motorcycles until we can go testing.

So it won't really matter that much at Sepang. I think we'll have to see how the testing plan goes and then see from there. And when Honda decides which way they are going [with the 2016 bike] I'm sure they'll pass the stuff on to us.

So it isn't really that much of a bad thing. Whatever happens, we know Honda is working very hard for us at our team and I'm looking forward to another year with them. I'm optimistic.

Crash.net:
So Honda wants to make sure the 2016 package is right before passing it on to you?

Cal Crutchlow:
The thing is that last year after a couple of races we changed our chassis, seat and tank, but our engines were sealed and the engine seemed more of the problem. So I'm sure what they are trying to do is get the new engine sorted - as well as the chassis and rest of the package - because once they seal the engines they are set for the season.

If they were to give me something for the start of testing, but then develop something better by the first race and we didn't get that upgrade - because there is not enough of them, or because we can't change once everything has been sealed - then it's more difficult.

So honestly I think the way that they are doing it is right. I have full confidence in the plan that they've got with regards to their own riders, Marc and Dani, and also the testing programme.

It was not easy for Honda in 2015. It was a really difficult bike to ride and we saw that from Marc and Dani not able to get the results of previous years and also from me and Scott. Now you see Scott jump on the Ducati and be fast immediately.

So it shows how difficult the Honda was to ride last season and I think they want to get it right for 2016. I have confidence that they will do that.

Crash.net:
I guess you also have enough new things to be getting on with until the new bike arrives, in terms of the Michelin tyres and ECU system...

Cal Crutchlow:
Yeah, that can take three days as it is. It's proving difficult for us to change things over to the new ECU at the moment. I haven't used it yet, but I know it's quite a complex thing for our bike. And we all know these tyres are a difficult thing to get on with for everybody. They improve the rear grip, but they improve it for everybody. So if we get 10% more rear grip so does Yamaha, Suzuki, Ducati and the rest.

But we need to focus on the front tyre. The Honda is so hard on the front tyre and the Bridgestone was a 'strong' tyre, as such, whereas the Michelin is softer. So you can imagine we are going to be working that front tyre even more now, which could make things more difficult for us.

So we need to find the balance and this is why Honda is working on that strategy of finding which direction to go and putting their resources into that. I have no information on which way they are going with the chassis or the engine. All I know is that they are giving it 100%. The good thing is they've got guys that are able to compete at the front and challenge no matter what.

Crash.net:
You mention the change of character with the Michelins. You've ridden for three different manufacturers in MotoGP, who should the tyre change favour most do you think?

Cal Crutchlow:
It will favour people who are not pushing the front so much, so Suzuki and Yamaha I would say.

We all have to adjust our settings, our bikes and our riding styles but there is only so much you can do. I think the tyres are finicky to get on with, but once you get them right they are a fantastic tyre.

It's not easy being a tyre manufacture in MotoGP because they are the only thing that holds us to the floor and every time someone makes a mistake the first thing they normally say is 'the tyre let go', or 'I needed a bit more support here', or 'I opened the throttle and the rear let go because of the tyre', or whatever!

They never really get the praise they deserve. They hear a lot of negatives from the riders. So it's not an easy job at all. Bridgestone did a fantastic job and I'm sure Michelin will as well. It'll just take time to get used to.

Crash.net:
Ducati won't have concessions any more, including the softer rear tyre, will that help the satellite Honda and Yamaha riders?

Cal Crutchlow:
Yeah, but the whole Ducati thing is - they have so much power from the engine they have free lap time everywhere. They gain half-a-second on the exit of the corners and keep that momentum on the straight because they have such a good anti-wheelie system, good torque curve, rear grip and now the bike is turning better. It's an all-round good bike.

I think we're going to have difficulty also with Casey coming back, with how good he is and how clever he is. He's a phenomenal rider. His testing role is going to be really beneficial to them as well.

So I believe it should bring it closer with regards to the electronics and tyres, but you are still going to see the same guys that are able to compete. I've been very fortunate over the years that when I've been in satellite teams, I've been the guy who can consistently make the top four or top three.

I want to do that again. It would be pretty cool to be able to break that mould again, as far as who we see challenging up front every weekend. Iannone did it very well last year and obviously Dovi also at the start of the season.

I want to be in that group as much as possible this year. That's the aim anyway. You want to beat everyone, whether they are first or last on the grid, so I'll be trying my best whatever.

Crash.net:
Who would you say is the favourite for the title? What are your predictions?

Cal Crutchlow:
Honestly I don't know. It's a complete lottery at the minute. Marc was fastest at the Valencia test and then absolutely nowhere at the Jerez test. The only thing I think you can take from the tests so far is that Maverick Vinales is going to be a rocket. Really fast, but he's not going to win the championship.

If I had to pick someone then I'd say, if Honda comes out with a really competitive package, Dani Pedrosa is your man for the championship because he put less stress through the front tyre. Simple as that. And he knows the Michelins well. He doesn't take risks. He can get the bike picked up and squared off so fast that he does not need to brake amazingly late and then risk that front tyre.

So I would say Dani is my favourite for the championship, if he has the package under him to do it. But honestly there are so many guys that are able to compete. I think Iannone could challenge for the title for example.

I also think one of Jorge, Marc, Vale and Dani is not going to be there like they were last year. That's just my prediction. It's not gospel. It doesn't mean anything other than that's the way I think it will be. I don't know which one, but I just think that there might be a change in the mould this year - one new rider breaking into the top four at the expense of one of those names.

For the fans, for the people who watch it on TV and follow it on the internet, it's going to be a fantastic year. I'm looking forward to seeing the fans at the track, looking forward to them watching it on BT Sport and reading the news on the internet because I think it's going to be closer than ever.

Crash.net:
You get on well with Valentino. You get on well with Marc. How should they sort out their differences?

Cal Crutchlow:
I don't know. I think with the best sporting rivalries in the world you've got something like that happening now and again.

It's racing. I've always said I have no comment on the incident. It doesn't change my life. But obviously I work with Marc at Honda. We share data, meetings, briefings. So I know the way he rides, his character and the way he is.

On the other hand I'm friends with Valentino. He's probably the greatest rider ever on a MotoGP bike and the way he's gone about it over the years has been superb. So I don't take sides. But if I had to, I'd side with Valentino - because most of the world does, so it's the safest bet!

Crash.net:
What do you think of the penalty point system in general? Is it the best way to punish infringements?

Cal Crutchlow:
I think they do the best job they can. Honestly, they're never going to win. We are always going to complain, the teams are always going to complain, the fans are always going to complain. Somebody has to make a set of rules and that's it - and they are always the ones who gets criticised.

I think they do a good job of it. I think Carmelo runs a fantastic championship. All of Dorna are always working so hard. Rules are made and they are enforced through penalty points. That's their job. Unfortunately sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. But I think they do a good job of it.

Crash.net:
Finally Cal, you mentioned Casey Stoner earlier - if he does a wild-card for Ducati this year would you be surprised to see him on the top step of the podium?

Cal Crutchlow:
Not surprised in the slightest. Casey's a great rider and if he hadn't of retired he'd obviously still be at the front. There'd be other winners in the championship as well - Jorge, Marc, Vale - but for sure he'd still be up there.

Casey's one of the fastest guys probably in the last 20-years of racing. He's a phenomenal rider and I wouldn't put it past him to be able to just rock up when he wants and at least stick it on the podium.

Crash.net:
Thanks Cal, see you at Sepang.

Cal Crutchlow:
No worries.

The MotoGP season gets underway on 20th March in Qatar. You can watch all the race action throughout the season exclusively live on BT Sport, the home of MotoGP in the UK. For more information on BT Sport visit bt.com/sport

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