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Cecchinello: ‘Miller must learn, we’ll give him electronics in small doses’

Cecchinello: ‘Miller must learn, we’ll give him electronics in small doses’

In an exclusive interview with motogp.com, CWM LCR Honda team owner Lucio Cecchinello discusses the new structure of his squad for 2015 and new riders Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller, plus the technical staff who will be working with them.

Lucio, you have started a new chapter. As Team Manager, you can now say you have two riders for the first time – and seemingly two of the best…
It’s a very special feeling. We had both of the riders with us for the first time at the Valencia test. It is a very exciting challenge. On the one hand we have a very experienced and still developing rider in Cal Crutchlow and on the other hand a young rider with much potential in Jack Miller. Both transmit a feeling which motivates me a lot about the upcoming season.

Miller is a talent, of that there is no doubt. But coming straight from Moto3™ he will have to work a lot, especially on upper body strength. What sort of training programme will he have?
Jack has done a physical test in the C.A.R (Centro de Alto Rendimiento / High Performance Centre) in Barcelona, where he will be subjected to various physical exercises. His results were interesting. He is in better shape than he thought he was. He is doing motocross three or four times a week, which has helped a lot to develop his muscles, his strength and, above all, the strength of his arms. It is very important to be able to prevent cramps, which tend to be one of the first symptoms young riders suffer when they first step up to the premier class. He will continue to work specifically on his neck muscles and triceps, which are particularly important for riding a MotoGP bike. For the moment everything is under control and we are sure that he will arrive at the first race in perfect shape.

At the first test, in Valencia, the Australian was unable to use the new 2015 customer Honda bike, the RC213V-RS. However, that has broken cover at Sepang this week…
Yes, we have now started testing with the 2015 Open Honda. Jack has realised that it is much more powerful than the 2014 bike he rode in Valencia; he particularly likes the power, the top speed and the smoother, more controlled power delivery. This bike is the ‘continuation’ of the 2014 factory machine, but with the chassis having been adapted to accommodate the higher capacity fuel tank (as per the Open regulations) and with the spec Magneti Marelli ECU software. And that is precisely the point: we are trying to work out exactly how that software works on the RCV.

LCR is now running two different bikes and therefore two different technical teams. How are you managing this and dividing up the structure?
Basically, the group that previously worked with Stefan Bradl will now be working with Cal Crutchlow; there has been no change in the technical staff regarding the management of the Factory Option bike. The staff working on Miller’s side of the garage will be headed up by Cristian Gabarrini; it was us who introduced him to the World Championship, when he worked alongside Casey Stoner in the 125 class in 2003. Since then he has been to Ducati and then back to Honda, always working alongside Stoner. The other technicians working with Miller are all part of HRC and all first class guys.

Regarding Cal Crutchlow, is this the season he fights back?
Cal knows 2015 will be a very important season for him. He will be on a Factory Option Honda, just like those of Marquez and Pedrosa, and – based on what he was capable of doing in 2013 and the second half of 2014 – he is the first to have high expectations. Hopefully he will get a feeling for the Honda as soon as possible.

At the same time, we need to be realistic. We know the Honda requires a special riding style in the sense that mid-corner speed might not be very high, while the corner exit speeds are impressive. In that situation, you have to be good at feeding in the power, otherwise the rear tyre will start to slide out sideways. Cal is aware of this and has actually said that, ‘If I want to reach the podium, 80% of that work will have to come from myself’.

Are you able to outline the contractual circumstances of both riders?
As a team we have a contract that binds us to HRC on a year-by-year basis. We hope to be able to keep renewing that, as we have been doing since we entered the premier class in 2006. In turn, Jack (Miller) has a contract with HRC for the next three years. We hope to be working with Jack in 2016 and 2017 as well. Cal (Crutchlow) has a two-year contract which includes clauses for termination, should either party not be satisfied with results. But from both points of view there are great expectations. If we are able to continue the project - which became a reality thanks to the input of our new title sponsor CWM - with both of the riders, I think Cal would also stay with us for 2016 and beyond.

How was the first day of testing at Sepang and what are you looking to try out with Miller over the coming days?
Firstly, we’re looking for an initial injection of confidence for Jack. We are not naïve enough to believe that a rookie from Moto3 is immediately going to be producing unbelievable lap times. The objective of this test is to gain confidence with what will be Jack’s race bike for the season ahead. It is especially important for him to understand how the bike reacts with the different regulations. We have elected to begin these tests without too many electronic aids in place. We want him to understand that the electronics will be a help which he is going to receive in the future, but only once he has first fought to the extreme with the bike itself. Once he has adapted his style and body to the bike and finds the natural limit with it, we will then give him more electronics in small doses. But first he needs to understand how the bike behaves and get to grips with taming the beast!

Tags:
MotoGP, 2015, Jack Miller, Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda

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