Friday was a day that brought mixed emotions for Cal Crutchlow, with the Englishman bemoaning a number of mistakes that resulted in him finishing outside the top ten at the close of the second MotoGP free practice in Qatar.

Crutchlow’s frustrations stemmed from the knowledge that track conditions in FP3, held during the late afternoon, will more than likely be far from ideal, making his presence in this afternoon’s Q1 session all but a certainty.

But there were positives to take. For the first time this year, the three-time grand prix winner felt comfortable with the front end of his 2019 Honda RC213V, a sensation he lacked in preseason tests in Malaysia and Qatar.

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As it stands, Crutchlow is sure he “can fight – not for the race win, but I can fight,” optimism that wasn’t felt after FP1 brought no real headway.

“I should’ve been in the top ten,” he said on Friday night. “I made my own mistakes. I used two soft tyres. With the first one I made a massive mistake in turn one but I did a 1m 54.4s.

“I said, ‘OK, put in a new tyre, do a good first sector and you’ll do a good lap time.’ I had three more laps and made three more mistakes in different corners. I wasn’t able to go faster.

“They were my own mistakes. Beefy [Christophe Bourguignon, Crutchlow’s crew chief] summed it up to me by saying, ‘If we’re honest we didn’t think we’d be on the grid three months ago.’

“In testing we haven’t had a bike that’s been capable of fast lap times, or [has accepted] me pushing or having the feeling to. I felt good to be able to push, which was nice, to have that feeling back. Even in Malaysia when I pushed I didn’t feel very good.

‘We changed from this morning to this afternoon. On one bike I had no feeling. On the other I had a lot better feeling in the second run and then from then on.

‘To be able to push the motorcycle to the limit, it’s nice to have that feeling back because if I had done a decent lap I’d have been in the 53s as well, which is not as fast as Marc but he’s obviously riding incredible.

‘The engine performance is very strong. Honda have done a great job with that. But we need to make me have the feeling.

‘I feel a bit better now, with the setting of this afternoon. This morning, honestly, I was going that slow I could count my lap time in my head. I didn’t need to look at the dash; I knew what it was. It was one of them.

‘We were scraping for the lap time, which is terrible when you’re going slow. But this afternoon I felt good. I feel I can challenge and fight, maybe not for the race win. But I feel I can fight – which I didn’t this morning.”

Crutchlow now has a carbon swingarm available. Pressed on its benefits, he said, “No, don’t forget I’m on a different package. The package is completely different to last year, or my feeling with the package is completely different to last year.

“As we know the bike is not so different but my feeling with the carbon swingarm is better than without it, because I have rode the ’19 bike without it. And I think it will be a positive for the race but they did a good job with that.”



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