A slipping clutch in the early stages of Sunday's Aragon MotoGP erased the benefit of Cal Crutchlow's first front-row start of the season.

The LCR Honda rider knew he had a problem during the warm-up lap and considered abandoning the start to switch over to his spare bike, but ultimately took up his third place on the grid.

Unfortunately for the Englishman, despite making a delicate getaway, the issue continued and he was down to twelfth place by the end of the second lap.

"We had a problem in the warm-up lap," Crutchlow said. "When I shifted to sixth gear down the back straight, I had a big rise in RPM and I understood the clutch was slipping.

"I cruised around the last corner and went to the grid. I was very close to pulling in the pits and taking the spare bike. Then I obviously didn’t want to do my normal start because that really heats the clutch, and I would have been in bigger trouble.

"So I got passed and then for the first 3 laps the clutch was slipping on all the accelerations.

"Then it got a little bit better and was just slipping from fifth to sixth in the back straight. But obviously then you can’t fight, because you have a slipping clutch.

"Then around lap six it stopped and I was able to start pushing through. At that point I was already twelfth position, but I think I did a good job to get back to eighth because I battled," added Crutchlow, who overtook Aleix Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci, a fading Fabio Quartararo and finally Johann Zarco.

"I had not a bad pace, but I just got held up by the Ducatis. I couldn’t pass them. The speed of the bike was incredible, but they were blocking a lot in the corner.

"I tried my best today. I’m pleased with the way I rode and with the way I managed at the start with the problems I had. I’m disappointed because I think we could have had a good result today if we would have got away in the front."

Crutchlow also praised the efforts of Repsol Honda's Alex Marquez, who took his first dry podium on Sunday, and the fifth place by his LCR team-mate Takaaki Nakagami.

"I think that all the Honda riders in the moment are riding well. Alex was incredible today. Fantastic result for him, for Honda and for his team. The way he rode and the way he came through the pack," Crutchlow said.

"If you look at any race this year, the first laps he’s amazing. Then obviously he had the pace to be able to do it as well. It’s not that he made a great start and then couldn’t do the pace. He made a great start and could do a better pace than everybody else on the whole grid. So he rode very well.

"Taka was with me essentially. He managed to get past the Ducatis when they ran wide and he managed to get away. I couldn’t get past the Ducatis because they never made any mistakes then and they just blocked the whole race.

"But I think going forward into next week, we’ll all look forward to it as Honda riders and see if we can do a better job. But you can’t get much better than Alex’s job today."

Crutchlow also made clear there were no miracle new parts, including the latest Ohlins rear shock, that have transformed Marquez's fortunes: "The reason Alex is going well is because he’s riding in a great way."

"I tried it in [practice] at Le Mans," Crutchlow said of the Ohlins shock. "There’s positives and negatives to it. We raced it and I think it was positive in the conditions we had today.

"There’s not a massive difference with it. You don’t feel that all of a sudden you’ve got better edge grip or better drive grip or anything like that, to be honest. It just seems to be the faster thing at the moment at this circuit. So I can’t enlighten you any more than that, really.

"It’s always funny because what it’s supposed to do and what it actually does is not always the same for every manufacturer or every rider.

"It can depend on the settings and you can imagine how different our bike is to another manufacturer. You have to find out what works for yours, and at the moment it seems to be working."

Sunday's eighth place was Crutchlow's best result of the season so far, having previously suffered a wrist fracture and then undergone invasive arm pump surgery.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...