Heading in to just his second season as a British Superbike rider, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind what 22-year-old Cal Crutchlow wants to do this season – help Honda retain the championship.
Coventry-based Crutchlow is determined he and new team-mate Leon Haslam can repeat the fortunes of his new HM Plant Honda team and take one-two again in 2008.
After the departure of riders Ryuichi Kiyonari and Jonathan Rea on to the world stage for 2008, HM Plant Honda was left with the difficult task of replacing two top riders.
Haslam’s success is well known, but Crutchlow is determined not to live under his team-mate’s shadow but continue the momentum he built last year when he claimed his first podium at the final round at Brands Hatch.
“The main thing is to try and win the championship,” says Crutchlow at the HM Plant Honda launch at Newcastle’s Sports Café.
“I have come into a championship winning team that was first and second last year. I look forward to winning the championship and we will soon see.
The team is undergoing final preparations ahead of the season opener at Brands Hatch on April 6, 2008 having undergone successful tests at the Almeria and Guadix circuits in Spain and today they are off to Snetterton.
Cal Crutchlow, a rookie in the British Superbike paddock last year after winning the British Supersport championship with Northpoint Ekerold Honda in 2006, surprised many to outshine Rizla Suzuki team-mate Chris Walker.
And now that he has moved to the factory Honda team, he’s keen to build on his experiences.
“Coming back to Honda is a dream come true, that’s what I pushed for last year.
“My first year in superbikes was hard but to move to a team that finished one-two in the championship is very good for me and I’m looking forward to the challenge. Me and Leon work very well together and to move into the championship winning side of the garage is great.”
“We need to stay consistent and carry the momentum through from last year with both myself and the Honda team.
“Leon has two years on me, it’s only my second season and I’m still learning. You learn every time you get on a bike but there’s no reason why we can’t win.”
The BSB paddock has seen a lot of change in the close season not only with Crutchlow and Haslam moving to Honda but Ducati has signed up Shane Byrne and Leon Camier while Suzuki has taken on Tom Sykes and Japanese superbike champion Atsushi Watanabe.
But following the pre-season tests it looks like being a Ducati / Honda showdown once again.
Crutchlow adds: “I can see the contenders being Leon (Haslam), Shakey and Leon Camier. He was injured the back end of last year but he’ll come back strong.
“I’m relishing the challenge of being up in the top three every weekend.”