Cal Crutchlow feels fifth place at the Japanese MotoGP acted as his maximum for LCR Honda given his current battles with his 2019-specification RC213V.

The British rider recorded his best result since Brno at Honda’s home event after having to manage his pace in the opening stages.

Despite being disappointed at missing out on the podium, with his last rostrum coming at Sachsenring, Crutchlow says his team is satisfied by a return to the top five having stunned in qualifying with fifth place after being uncertain of his pace pre-race.

“Part of me is a little bit disappointed not to be on the podium of course, but I never had a great feeling in the early part of the race,” Crutchlow said. “I also had to manage the situation to make sure I finished the race. For ten or 12 laps, it was really difficult to manage, but I felt we did a good job.

“I never had fantastic pace all weekend, and I didn’t have great pace at the last race in Thailand either.

“I thought that in Thailand, we could have got a good result, similar to what we had today, but I said I wanted to aim for the podium, and I didn’t finish on the podium today, but obviously my team and Honda are very happy with a top five result here at Honda’s home Grand Prix.

“I was in two minds as to whether to go faster and try to catch the group in front, or slow down. So I slowed down a little bit, probably a little bit too much, and then I had Alex pass me, and he helped me out a little bit, but it meant we never went forward in the race. So we resumed our battle from last year, I was second last year, he was third last year, and then this race we battled again, so it was good fun.”

Having battled stability and handling with this year’s Honda all season, Crutchlow feels the core of his issues have on display at the last two rounds, having finished in 12th place in Thailand, and concedes his team is reaching the limits in terms of setup optimisation.

“I feel these two last races have really highlighted our problems,” he said. “Thailand we had a problem with the brake in the race, and I had to finish where I had to finish.

“We need to understand what the package is for next year and start to look at that, because we can’t really improve our settings or our bike so much this year, so I think we have to look forward to next year.”

Crutchlow will be joined by Johann Zarco on the other side of the LCR Honda garage for the final three rounds of the season with team-mate Takaaki Nakagami ending the year early due to a shoulder injury which requires surgery. Zarco will race Nakagami’s 2018-specification RC213V.

 

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