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The GoPro British Grand Prix is a special round for all of the MotoGP™ grid but especially so for LCR Castrol Honda’s Cal Crutchlow. Now the only British rider on the premier class grid, the Coventry rider carries the hopes of thousands upon thousands of fans all wanting to witness the first premier class British Grand Prix race winner at Silverstone.
When it comes to the England football team, 59 years of hurt is often referred to. However, motorcycle racing hasn’t had much greater fortunes, with British fans having endured 42 years of hurt. So, can Cal Crutchlow put it to bed this weekend? David Emmett of MotoMatters.com sat down with the number 35 to talk the season so far, the 2019 Honda RC213V and the age-old question: how do you beat Marc Marquez?
First, Emmett questioned whether, despite picking up two podium finishes this season, he was expecting more from his 2019 campaign: “The problem is that the expectation is created by myself. But I knew at the Malaysia test that it was going to be difficult, honestly speaking, because of my feeling with the bike. That’s not to say Honda have done it the wrong way or anything like that. It was just my personal feeling and opinion with the bike. I was struggling. I could make the lap time. I could be okay, but I couldn’t be what I felt I was last year. Turning the bike, my feeling with the front of the bike.
Silverstone: back and better than ever for 2019
“I do think it has improved a little bit. I think you get used to it, maybe. It’s not like we’ve brought something and suddenly it’s got better. They’ve tried many, many things to improve that area. But for Marc, it feels okay. For me, I still feel not fantastic with it, but I can ride. I can make the podium. I can do a good job. But I don’t think I’m as fast as I could be if I had a better feeling with the bike. What works for one guy or a couple of guys doesn’t always work for another.
“So, I don’t think in any way that I definitely didn’t expect to go to Qatar and start on the podium, but I did. I was 14th in the morning warmup. I was in Q1. Then suddenly I made a podium. So I thought, maybe there is a possibility to be up there. Then I went to Argentina, again second-fastest guy on the circuit to Marc, but I jumped the start. Then we went to Texas. Still all with the same feeling.
“But I still believe I can do a good season. I crashed in Texas when I was in the third place, I had a couple of bad races but I had a strong pace in Barcelona. I had a strong pace in Sachsenring, I stood on the podium. I still think I can make podiums towards the end of the year, no doubt. If you asked me before the first race where do you want to finish the season? Like I told you, I didn’t know if I was going to be last or first. I had no idea because of my ankle.
Overtaking hotspots: Silverstone
“People seem to forget the whole ankle thing. I haven’t forgotten it because on a daily basis it kills me. And it’s not easy to ride. I’m not comfortable. I can’t use the rear brake how I want to use it, how I used it in the past. So, there was no expectation.
“To me, at the moment, there’s still no expectation. I have had some podiums. Great. Could I win a race this year? Maybe. Can I be on the podium again? Yes. I do believe I will be. But getting the information, finishing the races, and doing a good job is crucial. But I didn’t think after the first test that I would be really, really competitive this year. I feel that I’m averagely competitive.”
Finally, Emmett wanted to know how Crutchlow feels he can topple Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The World Champion has been in imperious form in 2019, finishing inside the top two at all but one round. So, does Crutchlow have a plan to get the better of his factory Honda counterpart?
"If I have a difficult bike but win, it’s not a problem"
“I don’t need to plan anything with Marc because it will be the complete opposite to what you think he’s going to do to beat him. You go into the race weekend and you think sometimes: ‘okay, Brno he’s not that strong’. I’ve been stronger in Brno in some years in certain areas. Then he’ll come out and he’ll be faster than you in that area. You’ll say: ´last year he was slow there’. So, he understands, he understands where he needs to improve from the previous year or whatever. It’s hard to plan to beat him but, of course, you always think you can. Like I’ve always said, if you don’t think you can win the race, there’s no point to be here.”
Crutchlow's dogged determination will have to be on full show at Silverstone if he is to overcome the odds and put an end to the 42 painful years that British motorcycle racing fans have been waiting to see one of their own stand on the top step of the podium on home soil.
To read more of the first part of MotoMatters.com's three-part interview with Cal Crutchlow, click here!
3 years ago