Cal Crutchlow qualified on pole at Croft last weekend, finished fourth in the first race but crashed out of the second one when he hooked a neutral exiting the Complex.
But overall the weekend showed just how far he’s progressed this year after a tough start to his rookie British Superbike season, trying to sort the Rizla Suzuki as well as learn about riding a superbike and switching to slicks after his 2007 British Supersport title-winning year.
MCN caught up with Cal Crutchlow to see what he thinks about his first season so far.
MCN: Cal, it’s been a great weekend, especially that pole position. Tell us about it.
Crutchlow: That is a circuit I’ve hated for the past five years. I’ve always been shit there and I was appalling in the test there a few weeks back. If someone had said I’d get within six tenths of the top of the leaderboard in practice on Friday I would have laughed at them, let alone getting pole.
MCN: What made the difference at Croft?
Cruthclow: I think we just carried the momentum on from Mallory Park. In the first race there we had a technical problem but in the second race I clocked the second fastest lap of the race with eight laps to go and finished fifth.
MCN: You’re a lot happier with the bike now than you were earlier in the year then?
Crutchlow: Definitely. The bike is getting better and better each weekend though it’s still not perfect. Things can improve, maybe with a bit more sidegrip.
Drive grip is fantastic now. And that’s the where we used to struggle. Dunlop have been doing a great job for us and the team has been working so hard. I’m looking forward to every race now and it’s almost a shame the season is fast coming to an end.
MCN: so how did it feel to put it on pole?
Crutchlow: I was riding around at the end of the session panicking actually. I did a practice start at the end there but never got a pit board to tell me if I had pole so when I stopped to do the practice start I had to ask a marshal if I was pole or not!
It was an incredible feeling especially as my best before has been the second row. I did a few spin-ups for the crowd.
MCN: How did it feel sitting on pole waiting for the lights to change?
Crutchlow: I was looking forward to the race but starting from pole put a lot of pressure on me. We were waiting all year for this kind of performance and I wanted to repay the team but finishing on the podium.
MCN: But at least you were challenging for the podium this weekend.
Crutchlow: Yeah, I so wanted to be on the podium. Tom’s (Stobart Honda's Tom Sykes) been up there all year but it’s our first time with the leaders. It’s good to be up there and beating people like Greg and Leob feels good.”