Cal Crutchlow completed his first factory Ducati test in Valencia today, admitting it was ‘nearly impossible’ to improve on his lowly 12th position on the final timesheets.
The British rider set a best time of 1.31.875 on the final afternoon earlier today to finish 0.214s behind teammate Andrea Dovizioso on the struggling Desmosedici.
Crutchlow, who is the latest in a star-studded list to try and tame the brutal Desmosedici, finished 1.588s off new world champion Marc Marquez’s fastest pace.
And the 28-year-old was slower than former Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith and Moto2 world champion Pol Espargaro, who replaced on a satellite YZR-M1.
Crutchlow, who scored four podiums at Tech 3 in 2013, crashed the Desmosedici at Turn 8 on the second day and he admitted he wasn’t willing to take any risks on a final day.
Heading into the winter break with plenty to ponder ahead of his next Ducati appearance in Sepang in early February, Crutchlow said: “We changed the bike up and down and left and right but had the same feeling. It is all information for Ducati and I got to ride another bike in MotoGP. Clearly from the lap times and guys I’m around that I’ve beaten all year, I am not fast on the Ducati as I was on the previous manufacturer. I don’t believe this will be the bike for next year but everything I have said is the same as what every other rider has said. I didn’t take any risks today. I could have gone faster but all the Ducatis are in the same position and doing the same lap time every lap. I think that’s a positive for me because it is my first time on it and I am already doing the same lap times. But to go faster is nearly impossible.”
Asked if it was strange to make such drastic set-up changes but get no different feeling on track, Crutchlow said: “I said the same as Dovi because he has done that all year. They didn’t need me to clarify that. He changed a lot and not much happened with the bike. We made two big changes that made a big difference but they were worse for sure. But at least there was a difference. This test was never supposed to be me jumping on the bike and going one second faster than the other guys. We know whatever happens it is only going to get better next year. If in Sepang we are not fast enough we try and make better again, simple as that.”
New Ducati boss Gigi Dall’Igna started his Ducati career in Valencia this week too and he has listened to feedback and got his first insight into the workings of the Bologna factory squad.
The best Ducati during the Valencia test was Andrea Iannone in 9th, with the four bikes on track all finishing within 0.4s of each other.
Dall’Igna and Crtuchlow certainly have been left under no illusions about the size of the task it will be to transform Ducati’s fire fortunes.
At least the bike Crutchlow tested this week is unlikely to be the same spec he will start the 2014 campaign on and he added: “I am pretty sure he (Gigi) has told everybody he is going to change the bike. The problem is time and we don’t have a lot of time. As Gigi said, sorting the staff and structure will be first and foremost. Do I expect to be at the first race next year on a completely different bike? No. But I believe in Sepang we will be on something different, or at least be trying a lot of different things.”