MotoGP: Crutchlow’s got Qatar race pace

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LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow might have finished the final test of the 2018 MotoGP season ahead of many of his factory riders and in a comfortable position for the year to come – but the British racer might be in an even stronger positon than even the times suggest when the lights go out for the first race in two weeks’ time.

Completing the three-day outing at Qatar’s Losail circuit with impressive race pace, the British rider’s race simulation on the final day of the test actually left him faster than all of his rivals. Only Valentino Rossi was able to come closest to the average place Crutchlow was able to set over his eleven-lap run, finishing it with every lap only tenths of a second away from the circuit lap record.

However, while the pace means that he’s in an excellent position to start the season with some momentum in when the series returns to Qatar later this month, the closeness of the lap times means that was quick to downplay his chances when he spoke to MCN after the test.

“I was happy with how the test went, because my pace was strong – very strong. The way things are in Qatar, it can change in an instant, but hopefully that won’t happen and we can be just as strong in the race. But we seem fast and I’m pleased with my pace.

“We did our long run on tyres that had already done ten laps, and I felt good - good enough to be competitive on the race weekend if it was tomorrow. We definitely still have to improve, but at least the team have the information to work with Honda over the next couple of weeks to evaluate the situation.

“We have to tame the power of the bike a little bit between corner and corner, because Losail is a bit different from the other tracks we’ve tested at and it seems that it reacts differently here. But overall the Honda team and my LCR Honda team have done a good job.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer