Crutchlow doesn't expect Qatar to be an indicator of 2015

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Cal Crutchlow was in good spirits ahead of the season opening Qatar Grand Prix with the Englishman joking with the media at today's press conference. Crutchlow will make his debut for the LCR Honda squad and while adapting to a third bike in three years is a challenge for any rider Crutchlow is clearly looking forward to getting the season started.

Learning how to get the most from the RC213v is a challenging task and Crutchlow summed up the challenges for riders as they adapt to the bike that Marc Marquez has claimed the last two world championships aboard:

"Just understanding the bike in a race situation because it’s very difficult to follow other riders on the Honda," said Crutchlow when asked about the biggest challenge of the Honda. "I think a lot of Honda riders and teams have found that difficult in previous years. To follow another bike is really difficult, but if you are on your own you can be a lot more competitive. So the easy thing to do is lead the race, but that obviously isn’t easy! Once we get used to riding with the other riders a lot more - I think it’ll be two or three races. We can’t really say the reason why… It’s about understanding the bike."

This season looks set to be the most competitive in MotoGP history with four manufacturers on the grid and testing indicating that there is an exceptionally close field ahead of the 18 race season. For riders adapting to new machinery this means that there will be no place to hide in the early races and for Crutchlow the challenge presented is clear:

"We have to do the best job we can. We have to be fighting, we have to take some risks and some challenges. There's a lot of strong guys out there, as all the riders said, if you look at the pace of everybody, it's been so close. You can easily find yourself 15th let alone 1st, so I believe we have to push every session, and we'll see what we get this weekend. But I think that the second, third, fourth race, I'll be a little bit more comfortable with the bike, and I'll be able to push a little bit more then.

"We need to work hard this weekend to make sure we’re competitive. Honestly a lot of the riders should be happy to come out of here with a top ten because it’s that close. I’ve also said if you finish 15th but have a great race then you’ve got to be happy enough. But we’ve got some decent aims and there’s no reason why we can’t fulfil our own goals as a team at the first weekend.”

When asked if he felt that Qatar will be an indicator of what to expect for the coming season Crutchlow said that it's always far too easy to read too much into the early season results and that we won't have a clear picture of everyone's potential after this weekend.

"For me none. Anything can happen in the first race. Look at Jorge last year. I don’t really look at this one as a massive indicator. I think sure there’s going to be five-six-seven guys at the front who will be at the front all year. But the guy who wins here normally, I don’t believe, means they will win the championship. I feel as people adapt to their bike and team…. Maybe Ducati will win the race here, but the championship? I’m always sceptical at Qatar. I think there is too much hype and then things settle down and you see what’s going on."

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Steve English

By Steve English