Stephen English: How are you set for this weekend?
Cal Crutchlow: It should be good. It’s going to be a tough weekend and it’s probably going to be the most difficult of the last few weekends but I thought that Mugello was going to be tough. It was a difficult weekend but I think that this is the one…there’s so many Spanish riders that want to prove a point; especially the top three in the championship and then you’ve got Bautista out to prove a point. Valentino always goes well at this circuit and Andrea too. It will be a difficult race but if I can get three podiums on the bounce it would be really pleasing. But we’ll take it like every other weekend and if we can finish in the top five I’m happy because it’s more consistent points for the championship.
SE: How much have you developed as a rider over the last year?
CC: I think I’ve learned experience rather than develop something. My speed was always there and I was always fast-sometimes over one lap, sometimes over ten laps but never over the whole race. Now I’m a lot stronger over the whole race as I was before but I’m not actually as fast over one lap as I used to be so maybe I’ve changed a bit in that way. I’ve some good races this year and some that I wasn’t happy with. I’m sure that I’ll have some more ups and downs this year but as long as we can keep finishing races and be in a strong position than there’s no reason we can’t be challenging in the top five in the title hunt.
SE: I have to admit that you surprised me last year because when you came to MotoGP I didn’t expect you to be able to mix it at the front
CC: Yeah and a lot of people didn’t. In all honesty in my first year…I didn’t and I was ready to go back to World Superbike. I have always said that if someone had have offered me a WSBK ride there and then at one point in the year I would have gone back.
SE: Was that the crash at Silverstone?
CC: It wasn’t at that point but I had quite a lot to learn and I wanted to learn it too fast. I was battling with riders that I thought were rubbish and they’re not rubbish, they’re incredibly talented. I’m not saying that they’re no good but just that they were riding around at the back. When I came here I had a shock as to how good they actually are.
When I came here I also had a big shock when Checa did a wild card and was nearly lapped even though he was leading the WSBK championship at the time that year and I just though that ‘yeah, it’s going to be tough.’ But things change and obviously I learned the bike and the tyres more. Now is so much easier than when I came because they changed the tyres. Now the tyres are fine but when I arrived they were horrendous and to learn them you had to be on them a few years to get it. It’s just the way that the bikes work and it was completely different to what I was used to. We went to ten new tracks and I expected to win at everyone of them and it doesn’t happen.
SE: Do you see Brad having the same problems adapting now?
CC: No, Brad’s a different kind of rider to me and he has a different mentality. The bikes are a lot easier now and tyres to be able to come into the championship and be fast. So it’s a different situation and plus Brad’s been on these circuits so he knows where he’s going. It’s different to what to what I was and you could say the same about Marc. You look at every guy that comes in as a rookie and they all crash. For Brad I don’t mean that he’s started, and I don’t mean it in a bad way, for Marc he’s had a crash at every race meeting he’s been at this year but he’s still fast! That’s the problem with Marc, he doesn’t get any slower.
SE: Last year you were always saying that you expected Marc to come and, pretty much, do what he has done this year.
CC: Yeah, nobody else believed me. They all thought that he’d crash and not be as fast. I said it was possible for him to win the title because the bike that he was riding last year [the Suter] is not anywhere near as good as what else is out there and he was incredibly fast. Also the year before. You only see one of the Marc Marquez’ come along every 15 years and the one before that was Valentino. It’s as simple as that. He’s fast and he’s tough to beat.
It’s funny I notice things about people and what they do and he was the same in 125s and Moto2 and he was exactly the same this morning playing football. He’s like a cat-he can save anything and he always lands on his feet and somehow get the ball even though he has no idea what he’s doing. I’m not saying that he doesn’t know what he’s doing on a MotoGP bike but he gets away with so many things or if he crashes…Look at Mugello, noone else would have thought to have leaned the bike over put the bike between himself and the wall. He’s just clever. He’s just like when you drop a cat and it always lands on it’s feet it’s like that and it’s fucking unbelievable. But that’s his forte and he’s so clever.
I remember one guy at Showa when I worked with him as a factory Honda rider in the UK in 2008 and I asked him ‘who’s the best guy you ever worked with?’ and he’s worked with Valentino, Colin and Max and lots of guys at the Suzuka 8 Hours and different things and the said Marc Marquez who was only 14 or 15 at the time. He said he was by far and he gives the best feedback.
SE: I look at him and it’s the same as what we saw with Rossi coming into the 500s in 2000. He looks like an accident waiting to happen…he’s aggressive and he’s not got the smooth lines of his rivals.
CC: I think Valentino was a lot more cautious than Marc.
SE: I mean just in terms of riding style they’re very aggressive with their braking and pitch in points.
CC: Yeah but when you look at Valentino now he’s the exact opposite. Marc if he takes that away from himself he’ll go slower. Some of the things he does you just think…but at the end of the day he’s good.
SE: From your perspective where do you see yourself in relation to Marc, Valentino or Jorge?
CC: I don’t think you can look at Marc because we all know that he’s fast and we all know that he could potentially challenge for the title this year, and next year and the year after.
SE: So in relation to the other Yamaha riders?
CC: Jorge you can never compare yourself to because he is just too special. How he rides this bike noone else can do. What he does with it noone else can do. There was me, Ben, Colin, Valentino and Brad and we all cannot do the same stuff that he does on the bike and he gets around the track fastest. When we do try and do it we crash. If we get his lean angle in one corner over the whole weekend we crash. But he does it every single lap and every single corner but we just don’t know how. It’s not about machinery, it’s really not, but as a rider you need to know that in your head because if you start thinking that “he’s on better stuff and he’s on this or that” and you haven’t got it that’s when you start to go slow. That’s when you have to take your own riding style and you have to make it work with what you’ve got. Our bikes not the factory bike but the difference in some area I know is not the difference between me and Jorge riding differently; it’s him. But some other riders in different teams if they can’t get their head around that they just think that it’s something different but it’s not it’s just the way he rides.
For Valentino we’re close on track. If we overlay our data there’s never any difference. It’s the funniest thing that I’ve seen in my life. If I look at the lines with all the data I probably couldn’t tell if it was me or Valentino. I know my own brake shapes, I know what I do into a corner, I know when I downshift but if they just put his on the screen I’d probably think it’s me and with everybody else you can always see a difference. In all honesty we also go round the track at the same speed and I expect him to win races this year.
SE: Yeah I’d expect him to win races but I don’t think we’ll see him challenge for a title anymore.
CC: I don’t know, you can never count out Valentino. You could never count him out on the Ducati never mind on a Yamaha and when he gets the feeling he doesn’t stop and if he has one good race…fuck you’re in trouble.
SE: I just look at it that when you look at how consistent Jorge is he will just constantly beat out podium after podium and Valentino, even his golden era, he wasn’t always doing that. Getting back to this year though you’ve had some crashes lately at Jerez, Le Mans and Mugello. What’s been the cause of the crashes? Have you just been pushing harder in practice and qualifying?
CC: Jerez I think can be taken out of the equation because we had seven guys crash in five minutes and it was just because the track temperature rose in those five minutes and we had never rode at that track temperature and we just crashed. Le Mans was completely my own fault. I went out on a cold tyre and just lashed the throttle open. I wasn’t pushing it was just the tyre was cold and it was brand new and it was the first lap that I started to push. In Mugello I hit the kerb because I couldn’t see anything. I had an alergy all weekend and at the end of the straight I had the vents open on my visor so my eyes just filled with water and I hit the kerb on the inside, where you shouldn’t even be, and I opened up the throttle on the kerb and I crashed. I don’t look at it that I’m the only one crashing. You could look at it and say that Marc crashed five times in one weekend. The problem is that Jorge and Dani don’t make any mistakes and that’s the one thing about those guys.