Cal Crutchlow has admitted that he needs to make big improvements with his own riding to match the performances of Italian Ducati duo Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone.
The British rider committed his future to Ducati last weekend and will stay on a Desmosedici machine, despite lengthy discussions with Suzuki and Honda about a 2015 move.
The 28-year-old has found the switch from the Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1 to the finicky and unforgiving Desmosedici tougher than he’d anticipated and at the halfway stage in the world championship he is currently down in 14th place in the standings.
He has scored just three top 10 finishes in eight starts and at the same stage of 2013 he had managed four rostrum finishes on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
There is no doubt that the Desmosedici is no match for the performance of the Honda RC213V and Yamaha YZR-M1, but Crutchlow says he can’t only blame the struggling GP14 for his performances this season.
Dovizioso, who has signed a new two-year deal with Ducati, has finished on the podium twice in Texas and Assen.
And Iannone has also impressed with the jump in performance he has made from a tough rookie season at Pramac Ducati in 2013.
The former 125GP and Moto2 winner has three top six finishes to his name this season and also claimed a stunning front row start in his home race at Mugello.
Ducati technical boss Gigi Dall’Igna is currently working on a radical revamp of the Desmosedici for 2015.
But it is not just the bike that has to improve, according to Crutchlow, who has struggled to use his high corner speed Yamaha style on the Ducati, which is still troubled by a long-running understeer issue.
Speaking exclusively to MCN, Crutchlow said: “I don’t think the bike this year has drastically improved. I think the Dovi and Iannone have improved. The bike isn’t much better because Gigi has not had the time to do it. But I am excited for the project next year and excited to be giving my all and no doubt they will be giving their all too. I know I need to improve my riding as well. It is not just about the bike and saying I will be fast when Gigi builds a good bike. I’m not having the best year but you have good and bad years in racing. I don’t know any rider other than Marc (Marquez) that’s had a perfect year. I had a bad year in 2011 when I first came to MotoGP and then I had a couple of good years and this year at the moment is a bad year.”
Crutchlow said he is not afraid to admit that he still doesn’t understand how to exploit the best potential out of the Desmosedici, even if that potential is not good enough to battle for the podium on a regular basis.
Crutchlow added: “There are not many points in my career where I’ve said I need to understand the bike better. This year is a mirror of 2011 when I first came to MotoGP and I didn’t understand so many things. I’m not thick but I just don’t get things as good in my first year when I’m learning. I’ve no issue about saying that. It took me a year to figure out Bridgestone tyres and a MotoGP bike and it will take me a year to figure out this bike. But that has been the case for every rider that has jumped on the Ducati. The first year has always been tough and then they've improved in the second."
For Crutchlow’s exclusive thoughts on why he agreed to stay with Ducati in 2015, see the July 23 issue of Motor Cycle News.