While Cal Crutchlow may have experienced a relatively lonely Misano race on his way to third place, the British rider says the opposing strengths in the Honda and Ducati packages creates the close performance fight between the two factories.

All Honda riders have consistently pointed to Ducati’s stronger and smoother acceleration plus improved cornering speeds which have given the Italian manufacturer the best package on the 2018 grid.

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Crutchlow sees Honda’s strengths under braking as a necessity to reduce the deficit felt against Ducati’s acceleration, which he says explains the higher number of front-end crashes under braking by Honda riders, but ultimately feels the two bikes are fairly even in terms of overall performance with key differences being circuit-specific.

“I think with the Honda we have a very strong bike,” Crutchlow, who joined LCR Honda from Ducati in 2015, said. “We have a stronger bike than last year. Imy garage I think it’s more positive because we are faster at every race track. Last year we had some racetracks it was more difficult. Now it seems that we can be in the top five or six in every racetrack.

“They [Ducati] made a good step with the engine, but I still think we have the same problem. We take advantage so much of the braking because this is where our bike is positive.

“This is why we crash and we push the front a lot. I think it’s a consequence that the Ducati off the corner is able to accelerate well. Then we get to the next corner and brake late to try and gain the advantage back.

“There’s always positives and negatives to each bike. The question was asked to Dovi does he think his bike is the best in the grid. I’m sure he thinks in some areas, and in some areas they need to improve. Our bike is better in some areas than theirs, and theirs is better than ours, but this is what makes good racing.”

Crutchlow’s podium, partly gifted by Lorenzo’s crash from second place on the penultimate lap, marks his first return to the rostrum since winning in Argentina in April.

The result sees him move clear of his top independent rivals in sixth place with a nine-point gap to both Johann Zarco (Tech 3) and Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati).

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