MotoGP new boy Cal Crutchlow has acknowledged that a combination of a lack of testing for rookies and an operation to fix his damaged shoulder means time is not on his side and he will be up against it heading into the 2011 campaign - but he remains confident about his prospects, insisting that he is a 'fast learner'.

Crutchlow will graduate to motorcycling's premier class with Tech 3 Yamaha next season, off the back of a single campaign in the World Superbike Championship with the Japanese manufacturer that improved progressively as the year wore on. A brace of popular victories on home turf at Silverstone and another in the Magny-Cours finale elevated the Brit to fifth in the final riders' standings come season's end, comfortably ahead of double title-winning team-mate and experienced WSBK protagonist James Toseland.

"In the end it came out quite good, I think," he mused, speaking exclusively to Radio. "The second half of the year was really good, from Miller [Motorsports Park] onwards, to be fair. We were unlucky at Brno - I think we should have won there - but from the point-of-view of racing, racecraft and consistency I think I got a lot better.

"It was quite close between me, [Carlos] Checa and [Max] Biaggi over the second half of the year as to who had the most points, and I was only 13 points off finishing third in my rookie season in World Superbikes, so in the end I was happy enough and I'm looking forward to next year now."

One thing that was beyond question in WSBK in 2010 was Crutchlow's outstanding single-lap pace, with an unrivalled six pole positions from 13 rounds - nobody else tallied more than two - as he replicated his stunning qualifying form from World Supersport twelve months earlier. It is, however, an area that the 25-year-old recognises he needs to work on in MotoGP following the two-day post-season test outing in Valencia last month at which he wound up 13th-quickest, albeit only just over a tenth of a second adrift of new team-mate Colin Edwards.

"Funny you should say that," he quipped, when reminded of his stellar qualifying record this year. "I don't know if I've lost some of my raw speed, because when I jumped on the MotoGP bike, every time I put a new set of tyres on or changed the settings, we seemed to go at the same pace. The pace was actually fast enough - it was good enough for fifth, sixth, seventh place in the MotoGP race [there] - but then when I put a new set of tyres on I went exactly the same speed, which isn't usually like me.

"I can usually do a good SuperPole lap or do some fast laps - my raw speed in World Superbikes was good - but at the minute I think I'm just getting used to the MotoGP bike and finding some consistency on it. At the test in Valencia, consistency was the key, and we ended up lapping in the mid-1m33s [bracket] - and a lot of them!

"[MotoGP and WSBK are] very different, really, really different, because everything is just the opposite. If you load the Pirelli tyres and the chassis of a Superbike into the corner and round the corner, you'll crash, because there's not enough grip, whereas if you don't do that on a MotoGP bike you'll crash, because there's not enough grip! You brake all the way round the corner on the GP bike to get the thing to turn. Through a fast corner, you have to sort of load the bike before you go into it to make it have any grip.

"It's just about learning the chassis and Bridgestones. The way I'm putting it at the moment is that it's like driving your normal car down the motorway and then through the twisty bits and then doing the same with an F1 car - it's the complete opposite, but it's enjoyable and I really am enjoying it."

One factor that Cal is enjoying rather less is the dearth of MotoGP testing opportunities for rookies - a constant criticism of the premier class' regulations, and something he admits is cause for concern - which will be exacerbated in his case by a hospital trip this week during which he will undergo an operation performed by renowned orthopaedic surgeon Len Funk to repair the ripped tendon in his shoulder.

Almost identical to the injury carried by the legendary Valentino Rossi this year, it was one that was picked up at Portim?o at the end of 2009, meaning Crutchlow has had to grittily overcome the pain barrier season-long - and with a similar three-month recovery period to that which 'The Doctor' is facing and the 2011 campaign set to rev into life on 20 March, he acknowledges that he will be on the back foot somewhat come the Qatar curtain-raiser.

"I wasn't able to do my rookie rules test, which I was allowed three extra days at the end of November for, because of my shoulder operation," he explained. "That was disappointing for me. There's not really enough time; I could ride the bike from now until the first race next year and still not know enough about it and about how the tyres work and stuff like that.

"I just want a good start to the year. I'm looking forward to it, I really am, and I think going to Sepang and learning the circuit there with the test will be a help; we should have really gone to Jerez and learned the circuit there as well and got used to the MotoGP bike a bit more, but now we'll just have to go to Sepang on 1 February.

"Most of the guys in the championship have been there two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight years, and I've had four days on the bike, two of them soaking wet and one of the others half of the day wet. Time is lacking on the bike - that's just what happens - but I know what I'm going into and I know what's going to be difficult is the transition to get up-to-speed with the bike and the other riders. They know the circuits, they know the tyres and they know how the bikes work, but I've been quite a fast learner before - so hopefully I should be okay."



Loading Comments...