It has been a hard season so far for Cal Crutchlow. The LCR Honda rider started the year uncertain if he would ever be able to walk properly again, after a huge crash at Phillip Island in October 2018 destroyed his right ankle. Then, when he got to the Sepang test, he found the HRC engineers had made the Honda faster, but even more difficult to ride. Despite that, he still ended up on the podium at the first race, and then again at the Sachsenring.
In Austria, I sat down for a long and meandering chat with Crutchlow. The Englishman talks candidly and honestly about his season so far, how good Marc Márquez is, his life at home, and the choice facing him with regards to continuing to race or retiring. He talks about the politics inside the paddock, and the choices he faces in his life after racing.
It was long, and it was fascinating, so the interview will be cut up into three parts, published over the space of two days. Here is part one:
Q: First of all, it feels like you were expecting more from this season.
Cal Crutchlow: The problem is that the expectation is created by myself. But I knew in Malaysia test that it was going to be difficult, honestly speaking, because of my feeling with the bike. That’s not to say Honda have done it the wrong way or anything like that. It was just my personal feeling and opinion with the bike. I was struggling. I could make the lap time. I could be okay, but I couldn’t be what I felt I was last year. Turning the bike, my feeling with the front of the bike.
So already I was a bit sort of started on the back foot with regards to that. I hadn’t ridden the bike in the previous two tests, so I gave them no information. I never said to them that feeling, nor did the others. Then when we all got to Qatar for the test, I again felt the same, and so did Marc and Jorge. They said that they had the similar feeling to me.
I do think it has improved a little bit. I think you get used to it. Maybe it’s not like, we’ve brought something and suddenly it’s got better. They’ve tried many, many things to improve that area. But for Marc it feels okay. For me I still feel not fantastic with it, but I can ride. I can make the podium. I can do a good job. But I don’t think I’m as fast as I could be if I had a better feeling with the bike. What works for one guy or a couple of guys doesn’t always work for another.
So I don’t think in any way that I definitely didn’t expect to go to Qatar and start on the podium, but I did. I was 14th in the morning warmup. I was in Q1. I was feeling the same always, bad, what I felt already. Then suddenly I made a podium. So I thought, maybe there is a possibility to be up there. Then I went to Argentina, again second-fastest guy on the circuit to Marc, but I jumped the start. Then we went to Texas. Still all with the same feeling. The thing is in Argentina we steered the bike with the rear of the bike sliding.
Q: So basically the problem is the feeling from the front?
CC: My feeling is that I don’t turn as well as last year.
Q: Can you describe that?
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