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Chatting to BT Sport’s Gavin Emmett and Neil Hodgson during Covid-19 lockdown, LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow offered some fantastic insight into an eight-time World Champion’s data.
The man in question is, of course, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), a rider who Crutchlow works closely with in the HRC ranks. “Marc is this incredible talent, a great guy to work with, to be able to share a manufacturer and work together with,” said Crutchlow, when asked about what Marquez is able to do on the bike, and what makes him such a special talent.
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“But it’s difficult to understand how he does it because he wins when it’s (the bike) not capable of winning. Do you know what I mean? The way he can control the bike, the moments that he has, the way he slides the bike, his use of the rear and front brake is something very, very incredible. The one thing I will say is how much he can lock the front wheel. You could pick a 20-lap race, and I guarantee he can lock the front wheel going into a corner maybe three or four times as much as any other Honda rider does.”
Hodgson, 2003 WorldSBK Champion and former MotoGP™ rider himself, asks whether Crutchlow is describing the locking when the bike is heading in a straight line or is tipping into the corner. “Both,” replies Crutchlow. “So it’s then about your brake control, or the way that he rides and the way that he uses the rear brake, things like that. We only see, on data, the deacceleration line. When that deacceleration line has a jagged bit in it, it’s the locking of the front wheel and then it obviously unlocks and goes back into line.
“Let’s say you have six of those spikes on the jagged line, he might have 15 into one corner or he might have one that is two metres long. But he’ll do that for 20 laps and still win the race, that’s just the way he rides. To a normal person on the road, I wouldn’t say they wouldn’t know what’s going on… obviously we lock the front quite a lot of the time and we understand that’s the way it is. But the lean angle he can do it at, or the way – if the bikes straight – how he can control it, and not crash, is something very spectacular.
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“But it’s the way he adapts to the situation in a race. Because as we know he tests the limit a lot in practice and qualifying, and in the race he knows what he has to do. But to be that sharp, week in week out, in every practice, every qualifying and every race, to finish first or second in every race in the Championship, on maybe a package that at some circuits isn’t as good as the others but still be there and still win the race.”
The three-time Grand Prix race winner then comments on how the other riders try to learn from the magician – to an extent – as well as noting that the number 93 isn’t unbeatable.
“You know, it’s hard to get your head around. But he’s not unbeatable because he’s been beaten in certain races, but he’s an incredible, incredible talent. And it’s good to learn off him in one extent. But on the other hand you don’t want to learn off him because if you try and do what he does, it doesn’t end well. You’ve got to sometimes do some of the stuff he does, but filter out the stuff that you can’t do and go from there.”
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Crutchlow also offered his thoughts on Marquez’ four-year HRC deal. Unprecedented in the world of MotoGP™, but the Briton isn’t at all surprised, citing it’s great for both parties.
“I thought he would resign with Honda of course but everybody thought it would be two years, as every contract goes,” said Crutchlow. “But why not? You know, if you had an offer sat on the table from HRC that you are very happy with, a great team, they back you 100% week in week out and they’ll do whatever you ask as such, or whatever they can do with your request, why wouldn’t you? It’s obviously a great deal for him and a great deal for HRC and his team, then I think they’ve done the right thing.”
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