Cal Crutchlow is forging ahead and, for the moment, the fact that the HRC left him behind for 2021 does not seem to affect his speed.
Third in the morning, sixth in the afternoon in the oven that was Jerez, Cal demonstrated that he was in shape, despite the prolonged stop, which ended with the HRC rather confused in relation to the performance of the RC213-V 2020.
In fact, only on the third and final day of the tests in Qatar did Marquez try Nakagami's bike from the previous year, and he was able to get the crux of the matter, deciding to use a hybrid solution, with parts from 2019 and others from 2020. In short, a compromise.
“I don't know if and how much the HRC developed during the lockdown," Crutchlow explained. "I can only say that I tried some innovations during the test on Wednesday, but they didn't work. That's why I'm basically using a 2019 motorcycle with updated electronics. The result is better than the tests in Qatar, but obviously not that much: the engineers need data and, to get it, you have to ride, and even when testers aren't able to do it, you can't improve much. Normally, to date, we would have done almost half of the races of the year... "
From the outside, the RC213-V always looks like a critical bike and, in fact, Marquez also fell.
“I didn't see his nor Alex's fall. I'm still using the 2019 chassis, but the speed of our bike, the agility, are also its weaknesses, and now the new Michelin rear tire that offers more grip, pushes on the front. At the end of the tests in Malaysia, we tried different sett-ups, but I didn't use new tires in the afternoon. It was really windy, and it bothered me a lot. And then it's amazing how much the temperature of the asphalt changes the performance of the bike. It moves a lot and physically becomes really demanding. We are obviously racing in completely different climatic conditions than those of the usual GP dates, different as night and day."
However, you seem rather calm.
"On Wednesday, my neck and forearm were hurting. I don't ride my bike if not on the tracks. I don't feel comfortable. Nor do I have my own Ranch with young riders pushing me to the limit."
After Sunday, you'll have a second race on the same circuit, what do you foresee?
“It's a 'Catch22' situation. If you don't do well in the first, you won't do well even in the second. If you can't do well overall and finish tenth, you won't win in the second race. Fans will see great races, there's no doubt, but who will win this Grand Prix and end up on the podium this week will be the same next week. That's my opinion."
Many probably have asked you this... how are you experiencing the fact that HRC dumped you for next season?
“I'm kind of upset. If I had been replaced by a rider who's stronger than I am, I would agree, but that's not how it is. So, either Taka (Nakagami ed.) is faster than I am or... the reality is that Lucius would like me to stay, but I know it doesn't depend on him. Together, we've always given 100%, and I, along with Honda, have gotten three wins and many podiums. But this is the situation... I'll look elsewhere. Where? You know, Aprilia, Ducati... "
Have you entirely rejected the possibility that Alberto Puig gave you to return to the Superbike with the CBR 1000 RR-R?
"I don't reject it, but I want to stay in the MotoGP."