2011 MotoGP Preparation
Although Cal Crutchlow got his first taste of MotoGP machinery at Yamaha’s test track in Fukuroi, Japan, after he wrapped up the World Superbike Championship, the Brit participated in his first official MotoGP test at Valencia on Tuesday and Wednesday.
And as many other riders/teams experimented with settings and motor configurations for the 2011 MotoGP season, Crutchlow instead worked on adapting his riding style to the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha YZR-M1.
And for a rookie, his adaptation seems to be working. Crutchlow, who finished fifth on the Yamaha Sterilgarda R1 in World Superbike this season, completed 133 laps during the traditional post-season MotoGP tests at Valencia, finishing ahead of Valentino Rossi on the factory Ducati, Loris Capriossi on the Pramac Ducati and Moto2 Champ Toni Elias on the LCR Honda.
The former World Supersport Champ had a best time of 1:33.483 on the Yamaha, which was only two-tenths of a second off of the man he replaced, Ben Spies, who graduated from the satellite Yamaha to being the teammate of MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Yamaha.
After the MotoGP testing wrapped up, 25-year-old Crutchlow was only 1.5 seconds off the quickest man at the track on Wednesday, Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner.
Cal Crutchlow says: “It’s been good. We have progressively bettered our lap time and I did a good one after 35/36 laps on the tires, which was my fastest. It’s a completely different machine to what I’m used to and we’re looking at trying to get in as many laps as possible. That’s the main focus right now.”
“The more I do the more comfortable I feel and I’m enjoying it. We’ve been working on adapting the Yamaha to my riding style and my feel – at the moment it’s not my setting. When we go to Sepang we’ll make a lot of adjustments to suit me, but this Test has just been about riding round and making sure I get some laps under my belt.”
“The bike is doing what I expected it to do, to be honest. The side grip’s not perfect on it, and if it gets out of shape a little bit it gets really out of shape! There are a lot of good areas such as corner entry, and the corner speed is fantastic. The bike is quite smooth compared to riding a superbike.”
“I’ve been told off about things like braking for too long and using the rear brake on the straight!” he added. “All the bad habits I have from riding a production bike all these years I have to get rid of on this GP bike. It’s going to be a long learning curve but I’m looking forward to it!”
During the MotoGP test, Crutchlow also got to work with his new Yamaha crew, led by Daniele Romagnoli
Cal Crutchlow says: “The team have been fantastic and have been working hard for me. They are listening to my comments most of which they agree with, and if we can continue that relationship I think it will benefit us all.”
Crutchlow has risen in the world of motorcycle racing very quickly. He and Spies seem to be on similar paths through the racing world. In 2009, Spies moved from AMA Superbike racing to the World Superbike Championship, winning the title in his rookie season.
Then Spies picked up the seat on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3, achieving the MotoGP “Rookie of the Year” award, just as Crutchlow did in this World Superbike this year.
In 2009, as Spies was dominating World Superbike, Crutchlow was doing the same in World Supersport. That year was Crutchlow’s rookie year, and he took the title after taking five wins and 10 pole positions.
Crutchlow has signed a two-year MotoGP contract. Yamaha says Crutchlow has demonstrated his world-class pedigree again in 2010 after a series of blisteringly fast performances in World Superbikes on board Yamaha’s YZF-R1 motorcycle.
Next up for the brit are the MotoGP pre-season tests at Sepang Feb. 1-3.