Cal Crutchlow fastest in FP2: ‘I’m not coming back tomorrow!’

Cal Crutchlow made the most of slick tyres on a drying track to put the home RNF Yamaha team a surprise fastest on Friday afternoon at the Malaysian MotoGP.
Cal Crutchlow, MotoGP, Malaysian MotoGP, 21 October
Cal Crutchlow, MotoGP, Malaysian MotoGP, 21 October

The Yamaha test rider - who retired from full-time racing at the end of 2020, but has been drafted into Razlan Razali’s team from Misano after the surprise retirement of Andrea Dovizioso - joked it had been the MotoGP equivalent of a mic drop:

“I took the opportunity to see if I could put slicks and go fastest - I've retired on top because I'm not coming back tomorrow! That’s it. I can go home happy that I’ve done my job!”

On a more serious note, Crutchlow was concerned by how both he and Yamaha title contender Fabio Quartararo had struggled on wet tyres earlier in the session, given the high chance of more rain storms over the next two days at Sepang.

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“What was concerning was the start of the session, how Frankie [Morbidelli] was so fast and me and Fabio were so slow,” Crutchlow said. “Our bike doesn't work in the greasy condition, when there's not enough water on the track and we just spin and spin and spin.

“Basically what's happening in the dry is doubled in the wet, you can't even open the throttle. So Frankie did very, very well because he was fastest at the start of the session.

“Then I took the opportunity to put slicks in at the end and pushed a little bit, but it's still 5 seconds off what we should be doing. I felt OK. I would have done the same in a test, let alone in a [grand prix] session.

“But the team were obviously happy, with the sponsors here in Malaysian. So, good, it gives him a little bit of reward for a difficult year.”

Cal Crutchlow, MotoGP, Malaysian MotoGP, 21 October
Cal Crutchlow, MotoGP, Malaysian MotoGP, 21 October

Unfortunately for Crutchlow, the dry morning session means he finished day one just 18th on the combined timesheets.

“It’s just a shame it didn't put me through to Q2 because if it rains in the night, which it looks like it's going to, it's going to be a hard Q1 again,” he said. “It also looks like it could rain tomorrow afternoon and qualifying in the rain is difficult, especially that Q1.”

Unable to assist Quartararo’s flagging title challenge by putting pressure on the likes of Francesco Bagnaia and Aleix Espargaro, Crutchlow nonetheless is supporting the Frenchman by running through alternative tyre and set-up options that could benefit the #20.

“It's always good that we can try some different things to the factory guys that tend to stay quite near the base. And then they have the information for the rest of the weekend,” Crutchlow said.

“Tomorrow, we'll try and flip the tyres where I will use something different to the others so that we've got the information - degradation of the tyre, that kind of thing -that we can then analyse and see if it's worth them trying or not.

“It could be a busy day or a long day tomorrow, depending on the weather!”

Quartararo, who needs to bridge a 14-point gap to Bagnaia over the final two races, was seventh fastest in the dry FP1 and ninth on wet tyres in FP2.

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