Cal Crutchlow has lamented the cold temperatures at the 2019 MotoGP finale impacting performance in Valencia but accepts it is an equal challenge for all riders, while his own running programme has already been altered by Jorge Lorenzo’s decision to retire.

The LCR Honda rider ended FP2 in 11th place on the combined times, just 0.064s off the provisional Q2 spots and stand-in team-mate Johann Zarco in 10th place, following a tricky day at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in chilly and windy conditions.

Having faced cold and windy weather conditions last month at the Australian MotoGP, Crutchlow feels the Valencia Grand Prix “would be a fantastic race” held in warmer conditions earlier in the season.

“The first session this morning was freezing and then the end of the session got really windy and in the afternoon it was really windy and cold,” Crutchlow said. “This would be a fantastic race if it was 10 degrees hotter. Or five degrees air temperature and 10 degrees track temperature.

“It would make it a lot easier and more manageable. Difficult circuit on the best of days if it is 30 degrees let alone when it is as cold as it is this weekend.”

With low track temperature impacting grip conditions, Crutchlow feels it’s a delicate balance with the Michelin tyres to find the right level of grip and performance.

“I’ve held by breath from Turn 2 to Turn 5! It is difficult at this time of year,” he said. “You have to continue to ride but then you put too much heat in the left-hand side and the bike doesn’t feel so good on the left-hand corners. That is the same for everybody and they will feel the same.

“I was so close to going with the hard-front tyre, I had it mounted and that is why I was late to go out in the session because we decided to change when we saw the sun go in. I think it was the right decision as the right-hand side is too hard for conditions. We will see if we can tyre it again tomorrow.”

Switching attention to off-track matters, following Lorenzo’s surprise retirement call it has had an unintended knock-on effect to Honda’s winter testing programme, to the extent Crutchlow has started 2020 testing during practice this weekend. Despite the early start the British rider has remained tight-lipped on what areas are taking his focus on the RC213V.

“We are already testing this weekend. We are busy doing things already for next season and for this weekend,” he said. “That is probably why today the performance was not fantastic as we had two different bikes going back to back.

“But I am quite happy with the progress that we’ve made today. Honestly speaking the lap time was not fantastic but I was quite pleased with what we tried.”

 

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