Building on a year that brought two grand prix victories was always going to be difficult. And England’s Cal Crutchlow admits he is ‘disappointed’ not to have added further podiums and wins to his tally in 2017, a MotoGP season he described as ‘average’.

Crutchlow ended the year ninth in the championship – two places lower than ’16 – after a largely positive campaign, which saw him rack up another podium finish in Argentina and regularly challenge the top four or five riders in the class.

However, the 31-year old, who signed a three-year factory contract with HRC in June, could not be entirely content with how the season panned out. Crutchlow was regularly among the fastest riders in preseason testing, and his speed in the spring of the season suggested he could pose a victory threat at certain tracks.

Argentina aside, he was not far off in Texas, where he placed fourth. He held third until three corners from the chequered flag at Assen, and those multi-rider scraps at Silverstone, and Phillip Island were other examples of Crutchlow – now in his seventh MotoGP season – mixing it with the very best.

Yet there were frustrations. The LCR Honda rider had podium potential at Jerez, but a crash ruined that afternoon. And, surprisingly, there was a lack of wet-weather performance in the autumn of the year (at Misano, Motegi and Sepang), a facet of the ’17 RC213V that Crutchlow’s team could never quite remedy.

Still, a year that boasts one podium, three fourths and three fifths when he had to contend with difficult, niggling injuries (fractured vertebra at Brno, finger injury before Misano) had, could be viewed as mainly positive.

Not that he saw it that way. “I would say average,” Crutchlow said at Valencia in November. “I’ve had an average season. If you look at the results, I’ve had a lot of fourths, which is why you’re pissed off after, because you want to be on the podium. Even though a fourth is a good result in MotoGP, I go home more pissed off about finishing fourth than I do fifth. Fourth is one step off the podium.

“But yeah, we’ve had a lot of fourths and fifths. We had the podium in Argentina. I’m disappointed I never got another win. I’m disappointed I never got some more podiums. But I threw a couple of opportunities away and some things never went in my favour, as simple as that,” he said. “In other races I wasn’t fast enough.”

A feature of Crutchlow’s season that is likely to remain unchanged in ’18 was the amount of testing he conducted for HRC. The former World Supersport champion was the chosen factory tester at a recent outing at Jerez, where he continued working on the latest spec of the RC213V.

His experience aboard other MotoGP machines (Yamaha’s M1 and Ducati’s Desmosedici) and ability to evaluate new parts swiftly and effectively was key to HRC’s decision to offer him a factory contract in June.

This development nous was confirmed around that time, as factory riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa eventually switched to the same chassis Crutchlow had been using since the Brno test in August a year ago. Marquez's results continued to improve apace after the change.

“I would say it was average,” Crutchlow said of his year. “I would not say ‘great’. I would say we’ve worked hard this year – really hard – with what we’ve got. We look forward to seeing what we have next year.”

Crutchlow was eighth fastest on the combined time sheets at the official two-day Valencia test.


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