Pushing a MotoGP bike to the limit in
practice or qualifying is one thing, but
what about when it’s time to get racing?
We asked LCR Honda ace Cal Crutchlow
to describe what it’s like to go fairing to
fairing with 20 other guys all as hungry
for the win as you are...
“On the starting grid it’s a really tense
moment,” he says. “You’ve worked all
weekend to be there, but you can easily
be out of it on the first lap because
everybody’s so close together. The
concentration level is very, very high
because the stakes are very, very high.
“One thing that’s really clear that I’ve
noticed is that we can practice starts all
week, but when you’re on that grid, you
always make a worse start. Strange, that...
I think it’s a combination of reaction time
to the lights, plus the sheer amount of
noise around you – you can’t hear your own
motorcycle; you can’t hear the RPMs dying.
But it’s such a crucial point in the race to
be able to get the best start possible.
“The first laps are the most hectic with
all the passing – left, right, up the inside.
You can’t hold back; you have to be as
aggressive as the other guys and try and
make things happen. In the last couple of
years, the amount of passing in MotoGP
has gone through the roof, which makes
you’re in a fight for ninth, or 10th,
or whatever, and you can’t get past
somebody, or if the fight is slowing you
up, it’s frustrating because the group
ahead of you is going away. But, yeah, I
do love to be in the battle, that’s for sure.
“I always try to pass people in the not
so obvious places. I like to go through
chicanes and chop back on the second
part of the chicane because no one ever
expects it. For example, if there’s a
left-hand chicane – one that goes left and
then right – when the guy ahead is going
around the left, they’ll pull as far left as
they can to get the best exit out of the
right-hander. If I can find an opening up
the inside, it makes them pretty much
stop and they’ve got nowhere to go. I did
it on Dovi [Andrea Dovizioso] a couple of
years ago in Malaysia and it didn’t work
and I knocked him off... So yeah,
sometimes it is quite a risky move, but it’s
my favorite pass to be able to pull.
“After crossing the finish line, on the
slow-down lap I love to congratulate the
people that I was racing against. They’re
doing exactly the same as me, and they
want the exact same goal as me, and I
know how tough it is for all of us. It’s
always a nice part of it to share that
moment with the other riders.”
“I love being in the fight...” (BELOW)
RUNNING WITH THE PACK
Crutchlow heads Danilo Petrucci and
Valentino Rossi in the Czech GP. The
scrap would play out with Rossi fourth,
Crutchlow fifth and Petrucci seventh.
Lose focus for an instant on a MotoGP bike
and it’ll bite, big time. (ABOVE) Crutchlow
gets in the zone on his LCR Honda.
Racing a MotoGP bike is a 200mph game of inches. For Cal Crutchlow, going wheel to wheel is what it’s all about.
for great viewing. You look at how many
passes we make, and if you’re comparing
us to Formula 1, the passes and the
moves we make in a single lap can
sometimes be more than an entire
Formula 1 race. Out on the track, we’re
all rivals, but we do respect each other.
To be able to ride an inch apart – or even
touching a lot of the time – we have to.
“Racing hard and battling with a pack
of riders is way more exciting than just
riding a race on your own. I love it; I love
being in the fight. Well, as long as the
fight is for a good position, that is. If
RIDING THE ROCKET SHIP