The rain was undoubtedly one of the protagonists of these first two days of Shakedown at Sepang, which saw Cal Crutchlow top the timesheets again on the second day, ahead of Ducati test rider Michele Pirro. Taking part in the eleventh Shakedown of his career, the rider from San Giovanni Rotondo spoke to us about the work done over these two days and how much has changed today compared to his first outings on the Desmosedici GP.
“On the first time out in the first Shakedown we did here, I think I did the best lap in 2'03”, or something like that, which we now virtually do on the out lap (laughs). A few things have changed, the bike is fun, it was just a pity that we weren't able to do some performance tests, due to the weather - Michele admitted - I've never had a day as bad as today. Yesterday we managed to get half a day done, even if I had to do other work instead of performance. But today it rained intermittently and you couldn't ride easily. It's a shame, but we'll see tomorrow."
Are you feeling the challenge with Pedrosa?
"Today I saw that he had done a 2'02" and so I went out too because I told myself that the track was good then. I did that time as well, but then they took his time off again."
You should do a wild card in Jerez too, so make a challenge.
“We're not ready, but I think he's taking part at Misano. Maybe he'll come to Misano too, it’s nice. Anyway, hats off. Watching him ride is nice, then he has a truly incredible interpretation of the track here. He’s always Dani."
Now that you are here and the official riders have yet to arrive, are Pecco and Enea calling you in the evening?
“Yes, we wrote to each other yesterday. I told them to rest easy, because we haven't done any performance work yet. We haven't compared everything well yet, because with this climate we have only done more reliability tests. We tried to understand a few new things and put the kilometres on the new material, but things have to be tested when you can push."
As a test rider, what is more difficult? Shaking down the bike, or shaving off the hundredths?
“It's difficult not to screw it up. Avoid not being sure that what we feel is really better or really worse, because we still start from a good foundation. What amazed me the most is that they have basically copied us all. They arrived here with lots of aerodynamic solutions, so it will certainly be a tough World Championship. However, we haven't shown all our cards yet, otherwise when the first race arrives, they've already copied us".
Should we wait for Portimao to see the most obvious updates?
“There aren't any visible things, also because you can take evolutionary steps even during the season. You still have a chance with the fairing. We want to be sure, because it will be a tough World Championship, with a race start also on Saturday, so we want to focus more on finding the way to be effective, perhaps for half of the race. This kind of test has been interesting, because Saturday also becomes crucial."
What is there still to improve on this Ducati, which seems almost perfect?
“In racing you never arrive at perfection. Even when you win, you go home and you have to find something to improve on, because the others are not watching idly. It's not an easy sport, but it's also challenging. I think it will be an even more intense year than last year, because Honda will have improved and Marquez will be back in place. Yamaha will take a step forward and in KTM there are riders and technicians who know our bike well. Aprilia has also made a big step with aerodynamics, so it will be more satisfying to try and win the World Championship again."
Don't the run-off areas seem a bit wide here in Sepang? You recently went to Nardo with the MotoE...
“Before Rinaldi wrote to me that he had seen some photos and told me: 'it's like Binetto' (laughs). For the MotoGP speeds you are certainly covered in Sepang, but Sepang is Sepang. It's physically devastating, because you've been without a motorbike for two months, here in the heat. Age doesn't help (laughs)”.