COVENTRY’s Cal Crutchlow celebrated his best result of the 2016 season so far after finishing sixth at the Grand Prix of Catalunya.
The 30-year-old worked hard to battle his way through the pack after a difficult start from seventh on the grid, and despite the searing conditions and greasy track surface he was able to secure ten points for his championship account.
Tyre degradation was a serious issue in the Spanish heat, but Crutchlow managed his Michelin rubber well to ensure he scored decent points for a second race in succession.
Having dropped to 11th in the blast down to the first corner, he gradually worked his way through the order, before scrapping with former team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. After eventually breaking free of the Italian it was a lonely ride, but one which the 30 year-old savoured.
“I finished sixth and you have to finish the race in order to pick up some points,” said Crutchlow.
“First and foremost I beat a lot of guys that I didn’t last time out, and it was a real race of survival. I struggled for speed on the bike, but thankfully I had a great rear tyre.
“It’s crucial to get away in those first ten laps though, and I just felt I had no speed and I couldn’t use the rear tyre to get a run on anyone.
“I lost some time behind Dovizioso, because I couldn’t stay in front. I’d pass him, or have to lunge at him but he could get past me again. By the time my rear tyre was done, I was riding alone. I wasn’t going to get caught from Dovi behind, but I couldn’t catch Pol Espargaro.
“I ran off the track a couple of times in braking zones, but I managed to bring the bike home which was the main thing. I’m not pleased with the distance to the winner, but I’m happy.”
After having picked up his best result of the year so far on Sunday, Crutchlow continued his positive progress by ending the second pose-race test of the season in Barcelona as the fastest rider out on the track.
The day was also a crucial chance for the British rider and his crew to work through settings they have not had time to employ during the tight amount of track time given on a race weekend.
Working tirelessly through new tyre specifications brought by official suppliers Michelin as well as a variety of new electronic settings, Crutchlow and the LCR Honda Team will now head confidently to the ‘cathedral’ of motorcycle racing, Assen, which plays host to the Dutch TT in just under three weeks’ time.
“Obviously we are happy to be quickest overall,” added Crutchlow. “It’s nice to be back on top of the timesheet, even though it’s a Monday and it doesn’t mean anything really.
“We will take some positives from the day though, and we have worked so well together as a team which means we will go to Assen optimistic.
“We used the hard tyre for much of the day, because that would be the race tyre here whatever, and we made some setting changes that we had been wanting to try like softening the front end of the bike, which helped it decelerate quite well. There was some electronic stuff to test too, because that takes so long – about 20 to 30 minutes every time you want to make a decent electronic change.”
“We tried the new Michelin front in the morning when it was cooler, and it was positive in some areas and not so good in others, but this is the information they require.
“Then we tried two new rears towards the end of the day. As you can see from the lap time, they were good. We also tried the ‘over-the-top’ wing for Honda to give them some information. I think maybe it’s a little better.”