MOTOGP: CAL CRUTCHLOW
“Coming out of the garage for the first
time is always a special feeling,” says
Crutchlow, “but especially on a MotoGP
bike. When it’s time to get on your bike, it’s a
moment when you have to feel at one with
everything. Even leaving the pit lane isn’t an
easy task because we only have six inches
of lock on each side of the handlebar; you
can’t really even turn the handlebars, so
we just have to lean the bike to get going.
“You have to be totally concentrating
from the get-go. Entering the track, that
feeling you get when you turn the pit
limiter off and you’ve got nearly 300hp
in your hand never really changes. It’s
pretty amazing, and so is going up
through the gears for the first time.
“Shifting gears, what makes it so easy
for us now is that we have seamless-
shift gearboxes. Honestly, half of the time
you don’t even know you’re changing
gears – especially when you’re going in a
straight line. In the middle of a turn, you
have some slip from the tire because it
will spin, but in a straight line the tire
won’t be spinning and the shifting is so
but you still get that feeling in your stomach
that you’re going light, you know? That
never really changes. It’s a strange feeling.
Trying to control the bike is the main thing.
Trying to keep it in a straight line is always
one of the most difficult jobs there is, but
you prepare yourself, week-in, week-out
for it, both physically and mentally.
“In the end, riding style is about what
you’re comfortable with, relatively
speaking. Even if you ride for the same
manufacturer, and even though we all use
the same [Michelin] tire and the same
[Magneti Marelli control ECU] electronics as
our competitors, everybody’s different. With
my body type, my weight, my height, the
way I ride is always going to be different
to anybody else. Nobody rides exactly the
same, so it amazes me how we manage to
go around a track in pretty much the same
lap time! A place like COTA – 20 turns and
more than three miles – we’re only
separated by a few feet at the end of a lap...
“Going into a typical corner, let’s say a
second gear one, the way I ride the bike
is that when I brake, I lock my arms out
Keeping 345lbs of MotoGP bike on the ground when a twist of throttle
delivers nearly 300hp isn’t easy... (BELOW) Crutchlow and Ducati duo
Andrea Dovizioso (04) and Jorge Lorenzo do their best at Silverstone.
FIGHTING THE BIKE
smooth it’s like pressing a button to do it.
“I get asked the same question all the
time: what’s it like to do 217mph? My reply
is always the same: beyond 150mph, your
eyes see nothing different and neither does
your brain. Honestly, you could tell me I’m
doing 200mph and I could really be doing
250mph. That difference feels like
nothing. Only the tunnel vision gets
smaller. Everything is obviously going
past faster, but your reaction time and
your eyesight doesn’t change, really.
“It’s the acceleration out of the turns
– second gear to fourth gear – where you
really feel like you’re hanging onto the bike
and trying to stop it from wheelieing a lot.
Take the final corner at the Circuit of The
Americas [Turn 20], for example: it’s first
gear, but we use five gears on the front
straight and we’re doing around 190mph
heading into Turn One. But just trying to
keep it in a straight line is one of the
hardest things we have to do because of
the wheelieing. And going up that straight,
the acceleration is so fast, it’s like you’re on
a roller coaster. It’s second nature to us,
A talented junior
Crutchlow took up
after a serious knee
injury. He raced in
British and World
making the jump to
MotoGP with Tech 3
Yamaha in 2011.