Cal Crutchlow blamed a lack of rear grip as he failed for the third time in 2012 to convert a front row start into a podium finish in yesterday’s Catalunya MotoGP race.
The British rider held fourth place until lap seven when reigning world champion Casey Stoner dropped him back to fifth.
It was a position he couldn’t recover despite exerting intense pressure on Stoner until the final lap and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider settled for his fourth top five finish of the campaign.
The 26-year-old said his podium challenge was blunted by a lack of grip and Crutchlow was due to spend today’s (Monday) Catalunya test session working on the set-up of his YZR-M1 to find out why.
He told MCN: “I feel we have get less rear grip than the other Yamaha riders and why I don’t know. We will assess it but we have definitely got less grip than Andrea (Dovizioso) and it seems like he’s got more than (Jorge) Lorenzo. We had another good and consistent race and when you are following the world champion it is hard not to learn something.”
What Crutchlow had learned was something he probably already knew. His Yamaha YZR-M1 is exceptional on corner entry and straight line braking but no match for the grunt of Honda’s RC213V on corner exit.
The former World Supersport champion added: “The Honda is just so fast. As soon as they get it upright in a straight line I couldn’t get a run at it. I was very good in straight line braking and tipping into the corner but on the exit Casey was better. It was frustrating because I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I’m not looking for excuses but this was only my second race at this track too.”
Another issue Crutchlow says he must address quickly to bolster his hopes of claiming a first premier class podium on home soil at Silverstone later this month is riding in the early laps with a full fuel tank.
He added: “I nearly crashed about five times in the first few laps and why I don’t know. The only race where I have been able to stay with the leaders at the start has been in Jerez and it was dodgy conditions. Where I am losing my time is in the first laps because of the fuel load. In Jerez because the conditions were iffy we weren’t pushing that hard and once the fuel load gets less the bike is great. The front tyre comes back to me and I am not locking the front all of the time or tucking it mid-corner and running wide.”
Crutchlow believes he might have been able to battle for the podium if he had been able to pass Stoner much earlier.
He added: “I'd have liked to have battled for the podium at the end and I think if I could have passed Casey I could have gone with Andrea. I was strong in some parts of the track and Casey in others, so each time I'd close up, he would be able to pull away and manage the gap. I couldn't do anything else to get by him but he's not the World Champion for nothing. He rode brilliantly and I've got to be happy to be so close to him on a track I've only raced on twice now. I qualified on the front row and finished in the top five, so there are so many positives to take away from this weekend.”
For more from Crutchlow, see the June 6 issue of MCN