Cal Crutchlow: FTR-Yamaha speed won’t influence Ducati strategy

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British rider Cal Crutchlow doesn’t believe Ducati will be influenced to adopt Open class status in MotoGP this year following Aleix Espargaro’s brilliant display in Sepang testing earlier this month.

Spaniard Espargaro was the surprise package in the Far East when he clocked the fourth fastest time to easily finish top of the new Open class entries.

After Crutchlow finished 12th and over a second off Espargaro’s pace on the new GP14 prototype in Malaysia, speculation continues that he and Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso will race an Open specification Desmosedici this year.

If Ducati boss Gigi Dall’Igna decides to go into the Open class, it will give the former Aprilia technical mastermind much more freedom to develop the struggling Desmosedici.

The biggest factor in the decision to relinquish its factory status will centre on the ability to develop the engine and test more frequently.

If Ducati remained as a factory entry then it would be restricted to just five engines with no in-season development.

By adopting Open class status, Ducati could use 12 engines without any restriction on development.

Crutchlow though doesn’t believe the eye-catching performance from Espargaro will make the Open class an even more attractive prospect for Ducati.

The 28-year-old, who was 1.5s behind the best lap set by 2013 world champion Marc Marquez in Sepang, said: “It makes absolutely no difference. The bike Aleix has is my bike from last year with some more fuel and a soft tyre. Credit to him though because he is riding well. It is not because everyone thinks he has got an Open bike and it is a rocket. He is riding very well. But that makes no difference to our decision on whether we go in the Open class. He has not gained one second because he is in the Open class. Put him on my bike from last year and he would be going just as fast. There are things for us to look outside of this test but we will follow Gigi’s decision.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt