Cal Crutchlow concedes he feels “like a broken record” when it comes to his major area of improvement with his 2019 Honda after suffering a fall triggered by poor front feeling during FP2 at the French MotoGP.

The LCR Honda was three laps into his fresh soft tyre run coming to the end of the Friday afternoon session when he lost control of the front of his bike and slid off at Turn 6 which prematurely ended his day to leave him 12th on the combined practice times.

Crutchlow wasn’t alone in coming off in FP2, as eight separate crashes were recorded in the session, as the rate of fallers unusually increased in all three classes as Friday practice progressed.

Speaking at Jerez, Crutchlow explained his feeling with the 2018 Honda chassis remained more favourable than his new bike and reflecting on the situation at Le Mans this weekend he believes having stability and confident in his feeling with the front will be “more critical than last year”.

“It is like a broken record, we lose the front and that is it,” Crutchlow said. “Don’t get me wrong as I wasn’t the only guy to go down in that session as you saw but the front and front feeling for me is way more critical than last year.

“With regards to how many crashes I had last year all of them were with the front except for one. So you can imagine my feeling this year is not great with it.

“I have a good entry in the corner and sure, I went in there faster, that is always going to be to blame as I went faster, a new rear tyre, a soft rear tyre, but in the end Marc went in there the same speed as me and didn’t crash, neither did Jorge.

“The bike is different to last year. Until I can find that feeling then it is going to be a hard uphill battle but at the end of the day if we went racing now, this afternoon, I feel I would be in the top five if I stayed on the bike.”

Crutchlow puts the problem down to Honda’s engine braking, the key issue which caused both his and Marc Marquez’s crashes during the United States MotoGP, as well as needing a stable feeling from his Honda.

“A lot of this stems from the engine brake. The bike is so unstable entering the corner,” he explained. “They are two separate things but the problem is if you have good corner entry with the engine brake and not the shaking then you might be alright, you might crash because you hit a bump. I was going fast, that was enough.

“If I was the fastest guy on the track and I crashed then you could say I was going too fast. But I wasn’t going too fast as I wasn’t the fastest guy on the track.”

Marquez ended Friday practice at Le Mans second fastest with his Repsol Honda team-mate Jorge Lorenzo climbing to fourth place with a late FP2 lap.

Crutchlow’s team-mate Takaaki Nakagami, using last year’s Honda, grabbed ninth place on the combined times.

 

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