Cal Crutchlow fears a chronic vibration issue with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine will ruin his bid to challenge for a podium in tomorrow’s Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang.
The British rider saw his bid for a fifth successive front row start ended in qualifying earlier today when a lap of 2.01.178 left him in fifth place on the grid for the 20-lap race.
Crutchlow might have qualified inside the top six for the 14th time in 16 races but he was 0.884s off Jorge Lorenzo’s pole position pace and he was over 0.6s away from clinching a front row.
The former World Supersport champion blamed a severe vibration issue with the front and rear of his YZR-M1 machine for his struggle to claim an eighth front row this season.
The 26-year-old told MCN in Malaysia: “I don’t know what is the matter with the bike but there is something wrong with it. We’ve got vibration like you wouldn’t believe. To be honest it looks like Andrea (Dovizioso) has a similar issue but he doesn’t complain and doesn’t feel it as much. I have it at corner entry, mid-corner and the exit. If it is like that in the race it will be a disaster.”
What was making the issue worse for Crutchlow was the struggle to identify the cause.
He added: “We had a big vibration, massive chatter and no grip and we don’t understand why. My bike is set-up close to Jorge’s but we have half the grip he has and I don’t understand why. I am a long way from happy and a long way off the pace. We are not where we should be and I think I should be at least two or three-tenths quicker. I had it yesterday but never really complained because I wasn’t going this fast. It didn’t seem to get any worse but I just felt it more. The bike is unrideable for me and one thing that is clear is we have zero grip. Every tyre I put in I nearly crashed on the out lap. We don’t think it is the tyre because you can’t have four tyres that all have a problem. In each race this season we can see clearly that we have the same grip as everybody else, if not better. But today we have a lot less and it can’t be that suddenly we have a lot worse grip with the normal setting. Why we are so far off we have no idea.”
A late crash in this afternoon’s session dropped Alvaro Bautista back down to 10th on the grid, while Valentino Rossi’s nightmare weekend saw him qualify in a lowly 11th.
Both are fighting with Crutchlow for fifth in the overall standings. But Crutchlow fears that without big overnight improvements to his YZR-M1 he won’t able to claw back the points he lost when he ran out of fuel while in fourth on the last lap in Japan six days ago.
He added: “If I had to ride in the race like I did today then it could be a complete disaster. I can’t explain how bad it is to ride. I’m not riding any different to yesterday morning and I never complained about it. I’ve got this issue in every single corner. We are really suffering with it because we have got no grip and if we can improve that then maybe we don’t feel it. But why we have got no grip we don’t know. I swore there was something broken on the bike but it isn’t. We made a change in Motegi because I had this vibration there in qualifying and in the warm-up and race I didn’t have it. We made that change again here and it made it worse, so I can’t explain it.”