He was the first of Fabio Quartararo's pursuers on the last day of testing. We're talking about Cal Crutchlow, who got only 82 thousandths of a second from the French rider on his Honda. A performance that seemed to make the British rider smile, even if he prefers to keep his feet firmly on the ground.
Yes, because even if it's true that the that Honda has grown, there are still some questions that deserve an answer as soon as possible.
“We did a great job along with the entire team here at Sepang," the LCR rider began. "We had a very important program to carry out and, in the end, we managed to make a noteworthy effort with the guys. As usual, the track conditions are not easy here in Sepang, since it's very hot and the weather is strange."
Cal's attention then shifts to Sunday's second time trial.
“Making a time and getting on the podium are two very different things," he emphasized. "I think that some riders who were close to the top three today will hardly be able to confirm themselves during the season. Bagnaia was very fast in the tests last years, then he struggled to stay in the top eight."
So Crutchlow didn't mince too many words.
“The lap time here in Sepang is important, but it doesn't mean much, because we'll have a clearer picture of the situation when we're in Qatar. The conditions are different in Malaysia, while Losail is a much more complete track with both slow and fast sections, without forgetting all the corners. Inside of me, I know how to fight for the positions that matter, but it's more complicated with this Honda."
Cal then gets into detail.
“One of the aspects to be evaluated is undoubtedly the tires, since we ll have to work on balancing the bike. Then there's the engine and the frame. Personally, I feel that the Honda is very competitive in acceleration and on the straights, but the problem is still entering corners. From this perspective, the sensations are worse compared to 2019. So we'll have to concentrate to find a solution with regard to the front as soon as possible, focusing on electronics."
Apparently, the Honda doesn't seem to make Cal smile much.
“As we all know, it's the rider who makes a difference in Honda, and that's how it always will be. Maybe this gives you more satisfaction when you get a result. I personally want to remain confident, knowing that I can still be fast with this bike. The Sepang tests were tough. I'll probably struggle to get off the plane as soon as I land but, deep inside, I know we can grow and improve. Like I said, I still have the speed to fight and be strong."
Audio recorded by Matteo Aglio