With memories of the 2016 encounter still fresh, Cal Crutchlow has firmly set his sights on securing a second victory at the Australian Grand Prix in as many years, and has vowed to continue working on his mysterious wet weather issues that plagued his previous outing in Japan.

Crutchlow scored his maiden triumph in a dry MotoGP outing at the picturesque Phillip Island track a year ago, and his consistency here during winter testing, where he ran a similar speed to pace setters Marc Marquez and Maverick Viñales, confirmed he has the potential to be a contender this weekend.

In light of Jorge Lorenzo’s post-race comments at Motegi, when he said he would attempt to help team-mate Andrea Dovizioso if the opportunity arose, 31-year old Crutchlow also revealed that the issue of aiding Marquez’s quest for a fourth MotoGP world title has yet to be discussed in his LCR Honda team.

“Motegi was a bad weekend for us,” began Crutchlow, currently ninth in the championship standings. “I don’t have any feeling with the bike in the rain at the moment compared to last year and the year before. But this weekend we’ll try again. We’ll try and get the same result as last year but I think this year is a lot more competitive. We’ll see and try.

“The goal this weekend is to win. After that we’ll see. I want to see if we can be in the top six in Malaysia. There’s no reason why we can’t be. At Valencia I hope to be strong as well, but we’ll see. So many things can happen in these MotoGP races at the moment.

“As you’ve seen, some riders that are not usually strong have been strong. Then some riders that are usually strong haven’t been. It’s strange. It chops and changes a little bit but I’m looking forward to riding this weekend, to see where we can finish.”

“I think one of the key things for here is qualifying; we need to make sure we’re on the front two rows. The conditions can be tricky here in practice and qualifying. We need to be in Q2 and not be messing around.”

On the possibility of helping current championship leader Marquez, who holds an eleven-point advantage over Andrea Dovizioso, in the remaining three races, Crutchlow said the issue has yet to be discussed with him.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know what’s been discussed in their team but it hasn’t been discussed in my team. At the end of the day, I’m not stupid. We have to be aware and we have to understand the situation. But that doesn’t stop me pushing 100 percent – that’s sure.

“If Marc’s able to beat me here or at any other race, that’s fine. At the moment I haven’t been asked [to do] anything. But I do remember I did get in between them at Assen and if it [the championship] goes down to two points I could be in for a great bonus.”

Crutchlow comes to Australia on the back of a tough race in Japan, when he crashed twice, ensuring it was the third race in which he failed to see the finish. Although physically OK, the Englishman is still unable to explain his ongoing wet weather struggles with the ’17 RC213V.

“We had three crashes at Motegi but just the two on Sunday. I feel OK. Obviously a bit battered and bruised. It was a big crash on the Friday and a big crash on the Sunday, the first one in the race. This is life. I feel quite confident still coming into this weekend. Obviously after last year’s result and after a good test here in the winter. Now we have to try and do again what we did here last year.

“I need to find a good feeling in the rain. Whatever the condition, I need to try and do my best. Obviously in the rain at the moment it isn’t the best moment for us. We haven’t got a great feeling with the bike. That doesn’t mean it can’t change over this weekend so we’ll try again and rectify things and see if we can have a good result.”

And has the gap between the two races given the LCR Honda team an opportunity to assess data and gain an understanding of those issues? “No understanding,” came Crutchlow’s reply. “As I said last week, I’ve always been able to ride in the rain. I’ve always been competitive in the rain but it seems like we can’t be as competitive as other years. If we understood the problem we’d be able to go fast. There’s no doubt about that. Maybe we’ll find something the next time it rains. I’m as optimistic as I can be.

“I get access all the time but it makes no difference. As I’ve said over the years, Marc hasn’t been the best wet weather rider. He’s always been consistent and really fast but he’s not head and shoulders above the rest. He’s never head and shoulders above the rest of the Honda riders but this year he is. He’s miles ahead of us in the rain. Even compared to Jack or Dani, it’s not just me. But we’ll see. We’ll keep working, as I said, and see if we can improve.”


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