Motegi MotoGP: Cal Crutchlow anticipating tough weekend

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Cal Crutchlow believes he faces a tough task to challenge for the podium in Sunday’s Japanese MotoGP clash at the Twin Ring Motegi.

Hard braking points dominate the Honda-owned circuit, and it has been braking that has been a weakness of the British rider in his second premier class season with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad.

The former World Supersport has been battling hard to improve the feeling with his YZR-M1 when using a full fuel tank in the early laps of a race.

And he’s also constantly working on improving his braking technique having lost out in tense head-to-head battles with Italian teammate Andrea Dovizioso.

His most recent close defeat to Dovizioso came at the last race at the Motorland Aragon when the former 125GP world champion took third place on the final lap after Crutchlow couldn’t make a late overtake stick.

Speaking to MCN at the Twin Ring Motegi track this afternoon, the 26-year-old said: “Here will be crucial for me because there is one area where I am still struggling and that is in the braking and this track is all about braking.

“That will make it a difficult weekend but in a way it will give us the chance to work on it and improve in that area. It looks like we are going to get a dry weekend, so each night we will be able to look over the data and see what improvements we are making.

“I know what I have to do because the set-up I like on the bike doesn’t help my braking situation. But I am expecting a difficult weekend. I like to enter the corner fast and release the brakes but we have to gain a little bit on the initial braking. So we will change the bike to help the initial braking and slow up a little bit on corner entry.

“The problem is that (Jorge) Lorenzo is able to do both on a set-up that is similar to mine, but that is down to his experience as well. Dovi is very good on the initial part of braking, so if he gets in front of you it is very hard to get back by him.

“I know corner entry, mid-corner and exit I am as good as anyone but 100% Yamaha is going to struggle here with acceleration and power. I won’t be expecting any miracles but it will be tough to beat Honda round here.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt