With his 2016 Honda not yet available, Cal Crutchlow expects to focus on Michelin and ECU work at next week's Sepang MotoGP test.

The technical changes, combined with last season's difficult engine character, have prompted Honda to gather more data with factory stars Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa before signing off on the latest RC213V.

"It's obviously a little bit disappointing but I'll be starting at least the first two tests on last year's bike. But that's the way it is and I have to accept it," Crutchlow told Crash.net.

"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 [starting with 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... And when Honda decides which way they are going [with the 2016 bike] I'm sure they'll pass the stuff on to us. 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."

Having been unable to directly confront last year's engine issues due to the in-season development freeze, the LCR rider understands Honda's caution.

"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," he said. "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.

"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 [Redding]. 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."

And if Honda does get it right, Crutchlow believes Pedrosa could be the man to beat for the title.

"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," Crutchlow said.

"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."

Crutchlow also expects former champion Casey Stoner to pick up where he left off should the Australian decide on a wild-card appearance alongside his new role as a Ducati test rider.

"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."

Crutchlow was the first satellite rider to take a rostrum last season - completing a Yamaha, Ducati and Honda podium hat-trick in the process - before slipping to eighth in the standings.

The Englishman will be one of three satellite Honda riders this season, alongside new Marc VDS signings Jack Miller and Tito Rabat.

CLICK HERE to read the full interview with Cal Crutchlow...



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