TECH 3 AND CAL CRUTCHLOW
Cal wants, and deserves, a spot on one of
those teams. I have to live with that.
“I’m really happy to be part of the
Yamaha family. But although we have
their amazing support, our bike is a step
or two behind them and most of the time
we have to educate young riders like Ben
or Cal. I’m happy with that, but I cannot
tell you we don’t enjoy being on the
podium and fighting for pole and trying to
win races. This is the ultimate. And what
we’re living at the moment with Cal is
kind of a dream, because we’re doing
better than what we’re supposed to do.
“Regarding Cal, maybe our shoes are too
small for his feet now, so I accept that. What
I want is for him to get what he deserves
in terms of the level of support, having a
factory behind him and getting well
rewarded. If he can have a better deal
somewhere else, I’ll be happy, but I can’t
hide the fact that we’ll miss him a lot. A lot.”
Before leaving the topic, Poncharal
throws out two sentences that sum up how
much he rates his rising star. “I really
believe Cal hasn’t shown all of his potential
yet. He can be World Champion one day.”
But it won’t be with Tech 3, and there
isn’t a thing Poncharal can do about it
except, as always, keep forging onward.
“At this year’s French Grand Prix, I saw
many Tech 3 flags all around the track,” he
says. “When you see them all over the
world, like when I go to Japan and there are
Tech 3 flags, I can’t hide the fact that it’s
touching. Yes, there are tough sides to our
job, but in the end I think we’re very lucky
and fortunate to live this life. My dream
came true and I thank God every day.”
So long live the dream.
Arguably the most important variable in
the complex equation of “Tech 3 +
Cal Crutchlow = Success” is crew chief
Daniele Romagnoli (BOTTOM, left), who’s
worked alongside the Englishman since
he entered the world of MotoGP in 2011.
“I am the director of the team and
make sure everything works on Cal’s side,”
explains Romagnoli. “Specifically, my role is
managing his bike setup. I coordinate the
overall setup – the suspension settings, the
geometry, the engine settings and the ECU
electronics. There’s also a Yamaha factory
technician physically working on the
geometry of the bike and another
engineer working on the electronics and
the management of the bike dynamics –
such as traction control and anti-wheelie.
Everyone has a specific role, but mine is to
coordinate all of this and take the decision
on what is the best direction to go. Of
course, I do all of this taking into account
the rider’s comments, too.”
And these comments, Romagnoli
stresses, are key to the end result.
“The most important feedback we have
is from the rider,” he explains, “What he’s
feeling isn’t something we see on the data
directly, but we need to understand what
the rider wants. Sometimes, after the rider
gets back to the pits after the session, we
need to check the data and try to see
what is the best way to modify the bike. We
also have to see how the rider is feeling in
relation to what we can see in the data.
But, again, the most important thing is
the rider’s initial feedback, because with
his feedback we can react immediately
without checking so deep into the data.”
Adds Crutchlow, a rider who uses
hand and body language, as well as
motorcycle sounds to get his points
across to his technicians: “Technology
and electronics are a big part of it now,
because we have such fast motorcycles.
But the rider still plays a massive part. If
a rider weighs, say, 70kg (154lb), all of
that weight is acting on a bike that only
weighs 160kg (352lb), So if you move
your body weight, the bike is going to
move, too, and that means you’ve still
got a lot of control over this thing.”
(ABOVE) You see
those couple of red
blobs in the distance
behind Cal Crutchlow?
Those are the factory
Ducatis, and Cal will
be on one in 2014.
It’s a risk he feels is
worth taking. (LEFT)
Crutchlow shoots the
breeze with Mercedes
F1 driver Lewis
Hamilton on the grid
at the French GP.
could be a long and painful rebuild. And
it’s this “Italian job” that Crutchlow took a
leap of faith and signed up for.
Tech 3, success and all, is aware of its
place in the MotoGP scheme of things.
Rossi and Lorenzo are two of the greatest
riders of the past decade (if not history).
To that end, they get the absolute best and
nothing but the absolute best – and this
can mean things can be “taken” from
Poncharal and company. All of this is not
lost on him, and the man certainly knows
when to choose his battles.
Poncharal knows all too well what is
playing out at Laguna Seca, but sees it as
a natural progression – and vindication of
the role Tech 3 plays. “Look, there are
only three factory teams,” he reasons.
“There are the two Yamahas, the Hondas
and – even though they they’ve been
having a tough time of late – the Ducatis.
“Regarding Cal, maybe our
shoes are too small for his feet
now, so I accept that”