After emerging victorious from the 2016 MotoGP at Phillip Island in Australia, LCR Honda rider returned to his favourite track to complete three days of IRTA testing with his LCR Honda team. Fifth on day one, third on day two and fifth on day three left the English man fifth overall.
Completing 61 laps on the opening day of testing, Cruthclow’s fastest was his last. He clocked a time of 1:30.065 which was over half a second slower the fastest man on day one, 2016 MotoGP champion Marc Marquez aboard the factory Repsol Honda. Crutchlow’s performance left him as the second quickest Honda on track.
New Honda engine taking a little getting used to
Crutchlow confirmed that the opening day was spent fixing a lot of “small things on the bike” which he said led to “lots of short runs in and out of the pit complex”. Although he felt it cost them a bit of time he said, “Overall I’m pleased with our pace”. He confirmed that they are using the new specification of the engine in Australia, as they did in the last test in Sepang, Malaysia, and he admitted it was “taking a little bit of getting used to for all the riders at the moment”, however he said they were still “happy with Honda’s work” and also the “way the team worked” on the opening day.
Over the duration of the following two days, Crutchlow explained how he hoped they could “improve the package” that they have even further. After not managing to get more things that they wanted to try, done on the opening day, he still ”felt good riding the bike and felt at ease”.
Crutchlow reflected on his Phillip Island win
Referring to his win in 2016, his second of the notorious season, he said, “We know what I and the team are capable of doing around this circuit, and I feel that if we had the race again tomorrow we would be in a similar position.” Although happy with this at the end of day one he still knew that they “still had to work hard” as he was adamant they could “have a better feeling with this bike”.
Crutchlow third on day two of testing
Day two of testing confirmed Crutchlow’s previous thoughts about his pace in Australia as he ended the second session in an impressive third position overall, again as the second fastest Honda rider in the rankings. Having completed 80 laps on the second day, his fastest lap on lap 28, was 0.740 seconds quicker than that on day one clocking in at 1:29.325.
What he described as a “productive day for the LCR Honda team” he revealed that “there were a few teething problems” on the first day however come the second day they “seemed to be able to keep a good pace throughout”. Describing the pace as “consistent” he said that they again “tried lots of different things with the bike” which produced both good and not-so-good outcomes. He said, “We need to work on those areas still but I think that the Honda in general seems to be improving and that’s good for us.”
Crutchlow did not opt for a time attack
Crutchlow spoke of how they “need to continue to give the factory the right information to improve”, and although he explained that they “didn’t even go out to set one ‘fast’ lap time” on the second day, he felt that if they had tried then they “could have been very competitive”.
Referring to the tyres, as French tyre manufacturer, Michelin, who have completed one full racing season with the MotoGP class, provided new tyres for riders to test over the three days, he felt that the “consistency was good” and that the bike was “generally working well too”. He admitted by the end of the second day that although the “feeling isn’t perfect just yet, the speed is there, so that's positive.”
Crutchlow finished up the test in fifth overall
Able to improve on his own fastest time further by another 0.224 seconds on lap 72 out of 85 that he completed on the third and final day, Crutchlow finished up the test in fifth with an overall quickest time of 1:29.101; this time as the third quickest Honda rider as Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa was able to improve his pace after suffering from a fever on day two.
Again, Crutchlow chose not to complete one fast lap with a time attack, but again worked on making his pace consistently fast. He put the fact he couldn’t set a fast lap down to the fact there was “just down to a couple of slight problems in the morning when the track was in the best shape”. He felt that this time of day was when “the temperature was good and the fast laps went in for other riders”.
He confirmed that the “priority” for the LCR Honda team was “to do a long run and get some more information for Honda”. He felt that they “managed that in the end” and overall they were left quite pleased with "how it all went” especially considering they “had a small issue in the long run”.
Cruthlow highlighted issues with the front tyre
Again referring to the tyres, he described their “big limitation of the day only seemed to be the new front tyre”; he also confirmed that it was not just for the LCR Honda team but “for many riders” as he said, “When we found we were really on the limit and unable to push.”
Summarising the test he said, “Now we have to give all the information we have gathered in the past three days to HRC”, and as a result of the three days he is left feeling that he “can be positive ahead of the next test in Qatar”.