Cal Crutchlow happy on ‘handful’ Honda

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Cal Crutchlow reckons the factory Honda RC213V machine he will race in 2015 is the most physically demanding bike he’s ridden in his entire career.

The British rider was satisfied with his return to track action after the long winter lay-off to set the 10th quickest time at the Sepang track in Malaysia.

The former World Supersport champion set a personal best lap of 2.01.713 in a 61-lap stint to finish 1.451s behind Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez.

A late burst of speed in the final five minutes of track time available put Marquez on top of the timesheets after Valentino Rossi had led the way for much of the opening day of the 2015 winter testing campaign.

Marquez has won the premier class world title in his two attempts in 2013 and 2014 and last season surged to a record 13 victories.

But Crutchlow said the RC213V is not as easy to master as Marquez makes it look and speaking to MCN in his CWM LCR Honda office in the Sepang paddock tonight he said: “All I can say is he (Marquez) is a freak. In all honesty it is a handful compared to the Yamaha. It is hard to ride and it is the most physically demanding bike I’ve ridden. And it moves around a lot and you have to control it a lot more than the other bikes. When Dani (Pedrosa) wins and he is competitive it is because he is riding well. But when Marc wins I think it is just sheer talent and understanding the bike to win. It seems a lot more difficult to ride than what it look on TV.”

But Crutchlow was still pleased with his performance in the Far East, despite an inconsistent engine braking system hindering his progress throughout.

He added: “I am quite pleased with today. I’m more optimistic than my position. I had a good feeling with the bike and it takes a lot of getting used to, especially around here. We need to improve the grip but I felt quite comfortable and confident and didn’t take any risks because I was too rusty.  We were playing a lot with engine braking because I struggled a lot in some areas with the feeling of it. We have to look into that tonight because that’s the main issue and there are so many hard braking points here and I don’t feel the bike is stopping. You can easily gain a second in the braking area because there are so many big braking areas here. In one corner it has been too much and in another not enough so it wasn’t consistent and not consistent from lap-to-lap.”

One downside for Crutchlow was his failure to capitalise on the extra grip of fresh tyres.

It was an issue that dogged Crutchlow during his tough one-year spell with Ducati in 2014.

Crutchlow’s blistering pace on new tyres was always a key strength when he rode for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad but he said: “I did the same lap time on a new rear tyre that I did with 27-laps on it. It is the same as always like last year where my benefit has always been to take one second off with a new tyre and today I couldn’t again. I am happy to do a 2.01.7 with 27 laps on the tyre but then I could only do a 2.01.9 with a brand new tyre.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt