UPDATE: Despite the rumours, Brno is expected to stay on the MotoGP calendar in 2020...

Cal Crutchlow, winner of the 2016 Czech Republic MotoGP, began this year's Brno event with the eighth fastest lap time (+0.641s) during Friday practice.

But that masked the extent of the difficulties he was having with the handling of the RC213V.

Asked about the track bumps, which many riders had raised as an issue, the LCR rider replied: "The bumps are probably the least of my problems."

Some, such as Jack Miller, believe the circuit is overdue a resurfacing - but Crutchlow said there is little point if rumours in the local media are true:

"It doesn't matter, we are not coming back, are we?

"I hope we do, this is one of the best circuits on the whole calendar. But every question I've had this week from Czech journalists is that we are not coming back, that they are adding Finland [to the calendar next season] and taking this one off.

"I hope they keep this one, but I hope they take one off, because we don’t want more grands prix."

Returning to the present, Crutchlow was asked to explain what was bothering him more than the bumps on Friday.

"From the moment I leave the pitlane until the moment I enter the pitlane, I don’t feel good with the bike at the moment," he replied. "At the moment I have two different bikes as such, settings. And I didn’t feel good, it's as simple as that.

"I can't get the bike to turn. I can't get the bike to stop very well. And I don’t have any rear grip. So that's most of the track. Then in the straights it doesn't go in a straight line.

"A lot of this can be down to settings and can change, and I'm sure we'll make an improvement for tomorrow, even though it could be raining. I think I'll hopefully feel a bit more comfortable in the race than what I felt today.

"But I don’t know what was going on with the tyres, we're not able to be as fast as we were last year.

"So I don’t feel fantastic but I think everybody is struggling a little bit for some reason because if you look at the pace, it's slower than last year. One or two laps it's not, but the overall pace for everybody isn't great.

"We've had a lot of tests here over the years and understand quite a lot about this track. The bumps are not helping, but they are one tenth a lap, it's not 0.5-0.6s that everyone seems to lose [after the tyre drop-off]."

Changing subject, the Englishman didn’t mince his words when asked if he thought team-mate Takaaki Nakagami 'deserves' the 2020-spec machine he is currently holding out for from HRC.

"No, he doesn't deserve it, I don’t think," Crutchlow replied. "But I'm not really going to say anything good about him at the moment because my relationship with him is not fantastic. But, it's Honda's decision. I don’t think he deserves it, no. He's had one fifth place in all the grands prix."

Nakagami currently races a year-old machine but is seeking the 'same situation' as Crutchlow for 2020, meaning he would start next season with the latest RCV.

"It's Honda's decision, I think obviously he's Japanese and it's good for him to be riding a Honda. As I've said all year, he's complaining about his [year-old] bike not being the same as what we have now, but I honestly believe he'd be slower on our bike than he is now. That's sure.

"Just because he went faster [on the 2019 bike] in the Barcelona test means nothing. He also had a tyre that was worth one-second a lap."

Crutchlow also warned that with the likes of Moto2 title leader Alex Marquez still available, it would be risky to push HRC too much.

"He needs to understand how Honda work and if he's turning things down then he might not have a ride at all! Because there are some good Moto2 riders, one of them whose brother is in the championship already…

"I think I have a great relationship with Honda. I try my best for Honda and I give the best feedback I can. I don’t scream for things. I ask them and if I can't get them, I can't get them.

"You have to do what you can with the bike you have and I think he is doing an okay job with the bike that he's got.

"Now if he gets this year's bike [next season, instead of a 2020], don’t forget this year's bike is developing all year, so maybe at the end of the year it's better than it is now. So maybe this package at the end of the year is going to be really strong again."

To justify a 2020 bike, Crutchlow said Nakagami needs to "fight for the top six every week and be on the podium."

Nakagami was twelfth fastest at Brno on Friday.



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