MOTORSPORT: COVENTRY’s Cal Crutchlow has high hopes for the new MotoGP World Championship season which gets underway in Qatar this weekend.
The opening race at the Losail International Circuit will mark the third year that Crutchlow has represented LCR and, once again, the satellite racer will form a one-man team in the premier class, supported by HRC Honda.
Last year the 31-year-old enjoyed some superb success as he claimed two race victories – at Brno and Phillip Island – and two second-places on his way to finishing seventh in the championship standings.
And after a positive close season of testing, Crutchlow is now looking to make a fast start this time around aboard his RC213V despite not having taken any points on his two previous starts in 2016.
“I’ve overcome a few injuries from last year, but I think I’ve picked up a few new ones as well,” said Crutchlow.
“I think a motorcycle racer is never injury-free, but we’re always trying to be 100 percent fit.
“It was nice to have a winter off and spend some time at home and do family things instead of concentrating so much on the racing.
“But it’s nice to be back now, once you start riding again you get a feeling for it and March really seems to be the month when your brain switches back on to racing mode. We look forward to seeing what Sunday brings and the rest of the season.”
Crutchlow is determined to build on his impressive test performance in Qatar two weeks ago. Having demonstrated then he has the speed to challenge for more victories this term, he will be looking to maintain that form when qualifying starts under the floodlights tomorrow evening.
He continued: “Yeah, we pleased with what we’ve done. We had an eventful test here in Qatar where we chose the direction we’d go in with the new engine and we’re quite pleased with how it’s gone.
“It’s proving hard to find the right balance for all the riders, but we’ve proved to be fast at every circuit which is good for me and my team and we’re looking forward to starting this weekend.
“We get great support from Honda, same as last year, and I don’t see that changing. I don’t think we get any more support than any of the other satellite riders – HRC and Honda have always provided good equipment to the satellite guys.
“I don’t think anything will change this season, we were happy last year and both my team and Honda want to achieve good results.”
Lucio Cecchinello, LCR Honda’s team principal, added: “We’re incredibly proud to have Cal with us again for this 2017 season, and we’re hoping to have another really positive year.
“It’s going to be a very hard season, that’s for sure, because the competitiveness of all the teams and riders is very high – it’s probably never been stronger in the last few years.
“The times over the winter tests show that there are about 10 riders who are capable of winning races and that’s great for the sport and very exciting for the fans, although a little bit more stressful for me! But that’s my job and I love it.”