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Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) got his Motul Grand Prix of Japan off to a positive start after ending Friday P2 on the combined timesheets, just 0.105 behind pacesetter Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team).
Crutchlow: "The risk outweighed the reward to go out in FP2"
“The conditions weren’t so bad in FP1,” began Crutchlow. “We expected it to be worse because of the dirt on the track but the lap times were respectable. We were pleased with how the session went. I need to find something in the second sector a bit but, overall, we’re happy. This afternoon, obviously, we didn’t go out. I think the risk outweighed the reward to go out in the afternoon. At the moment, it looks very clear for the rest of the weekend, so I didn’t think we needed to go out and push in that session and we got to watch the tv for 45 minutes.”
Despite the positive morning session, Crutchlow identified a weakness with the Honda: acceleration, a key element to the Twin Ring Motegi. “I think on the acceleration, we’ve definitely made a step with our bike and our package and Honda, but I think that we don’t just lose in the acceleration; we lose to our competitors in some of the braking zones as well. It depends on what front tyre we use or how we manage it. So, we have to look at all areas. We have a video guy on track that’s managing that situation very well for us to be able show Honda where we lose and where we gain against our competitors.”
Nonetheless, going quicker than fellow Honda rider and Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), and beating Independent Team Championship rival Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) on Day 1 can only be a good sign for the three-time Grand Prix winner. However, the Frenchman is a man Crutchlow is wary of this weekend:
Motul Grand Prix of Japan: MotoGP™ Free Practice 1
“Some of the independent guys can be on the podium this weekend,” explained the number 35 rider. “Johann’s riding very well, also in the last race he was very strong, and now he’s strong again this weekend, so he has a great chance to be on the podium, so we have to try to be there or in the top five.”
If Friday is anything to go by then a top five is definitely on the cards. This would not only a decent points haul for the Championship, but it’s also a result that would make Crutchlow the first British rider to reach the 1000 premier class points tally.